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WSJ: Apple Has Been Planning Google Maps’ Ouster “For Years”
The Wall Street Journal has another interesting article this morning about the Google-Apple relationship and the all-but-certain eviction of Google from Maps on the iPhone:
Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco . . . Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services . . . Apple has been hatching the plan to evict Google Maps from the iPhone for years
The WSJ reports that Apple believes a proprietary mapping service with advanced features will help the company sell more iPhones and better compete with Android. In addition the article says that Apple’s new mapping capability will be more widely and deeply integrated into the core OS and other phone features such as iCal.
The article traces the deterioration of the Google-Apple relationship and attributes Apple’s drive to acquire mapping assets at least as much to Steve Job’s resentment of Google as any other consideration. There are also new details about past negotiations and bickering over Maps that haven’t previously been aired. For example (per the WSJ):
- Google executives felt Apple was unreasonable in insisting on controlling the look of the maps app and enabling only some of its features . . . .
- Apple wanted to incorporate Street View on the iPhone just as Google already offered it for Android phones. Google initially withheld the feature, frustrating Apple executives . . .
- Apple executives also wanted to include Google’s turn-by-turn-navigation service in the iPhone . . . Google wouldn’t allow it . . .
The account of Google withholding mapping features from the iPhone is generally consistent with my understanding and perception of events as they unfolded. I was of the belief that Google kept back key features of Google Maps and Navigation to differentiate Android handsets. Recently a Google spokesperson denied that to me, however, suggesting that Google wanted to include all these features but that Apple was blocking them. It appears the actual explanation lies somewhere in-between.
The remainder of the WSJ article details the step-by-step acquisition of mapping capabilities and personnel to enable Apple to develop its own maps and navigation system. In 2009, the same year that then Google CEO Eric Schmidt left (or was removed from) the Apple board, amid growing competition between the two companies, Apple began buying mapping companies:
The article also points to the quiet release of an Apple geocoder last year as the first step in the eviction of Google from the iPhone’s Maps app.
The article asserts that the Google Maps team is concerned about the loss of traffic and usage among iOS users. Ironically Google will now be forced or able (depending on your point of view) to develop a full-fledged version of Google Maps for the iPhone — unless the app is blocked by Apple. However that would be far less likely under a Tim Cook regime than it would have been under Steve Jobs.
Tomorrow Google is holding a special event to unveil new mapping capabilities or features and to grab some attention before Apple’s WWDC event next week. That’s where iOS 6, which may include the introduction of Apple Maps, is likely to be revealed.
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