With iOS6, Apple tried to break one of its last links with the Mountain View giant by replacing Google Maps installed by default on all new iPhone with Apple Maps. Is this another episode of the eternal battle between the Cupertino based company and the major player of the Internet business field? Or is it a sign that Apple, just like Microsoft aand Nokia understood that maps are one of the future’s major challenges.
Apple engineers have announced they will propose a neater interface due to their partnerships with TomTom and Open Street Map. However, Google has a big step ahead. If taking over the map data freely available, or even implementing their own satellite images in a similar manner to the one used by Google Earth is almost a child’s play, catching up with the 8 million kilometers traveled by Google Cars and with the amount of data collected this way is another story.
Entire websites have been quickly built up showcasing the errors contained by Apple’s cartographic product: mislabeled cities, business listing mistakes, geopolitical confusions, overseen landmarks, and so on. These may be reasons for which Google has announced a 400 years advance over its competitors and for which, a few days after the launch, Apple withdrew their maps from the market, advising iPhone users to stick to Google Maps.
That driverless cars are far from the spirit of Apple, Nokia, TomTom and Bing is obvious and so is the fact that they are trying to dent, at least a little bit, Google’s monopole. Apple Maps may be less efficient than Google’s product right now, but from the consumers’ point of view, the arrival of effective competition on an important market is certainly beneficial. As we have got to know Apple so far, they are not going to abandon the project totally and their maps are likely to come back with an improved version. The only question is how long it will take them to reach a good enough level.