Apple buys big data firm Locationary in mapping effort push

Apple buys big data firm Locationary in mapping effort push

Summary: In efforts to reach 'mapping heaven,' the iPhone and iPad maker acquires another mapping firm, paving the way for heightened competition with its former map-serving master.

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 08.26.14
Apple Maps (Image: CNET)

Apple has acquired Canadian big data startup Locationary for an undisclosed sum, a report confirmed on Friday.

The news, which was first reported by AllThingsD, now pegs in as the fourth acquisition Apple has made in recent years — Placebase, C3 Technologies, and Poly9 — in a bid to bolster its mapping service. The buyout has already closed, according to the report, which includes assets and staff.

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Though Locationary is a big data firm, which owns a platform for merging and simplifying business listing data, the name of the startup above all else gives the game away.

Apple wants to bolster its maps — which in itself is not that surprising, if you've taken a look at the mapping app any time recently.

After Apple ripped out Google Maps from its latest iteration of its mobile operating system, the iPhone and iPad maker came crawling back after its own mapping service flunked and floundered. Apple chief executive Tim Cook's mea culpa took the customer's heat off the company for a while, and Google Maps stormed through the app store charts with its own third-party, offering for the platform.

One of the key problems with Apple Maps during its first incarnation was not the visual problems or the flaws overlaying aerial photos. Nothing was where it should have been. Oceans were in the wrong place, and major landmarks were inaccurately placed.

Locationary is a find, splice and merge listing service that crowdsources information and plugs it into its federated data exchange platform named Saturn. This in turn validates the data continually to ensure that not only is the data accurate, but it's also in a format that is consistent across the board.

The data collected and sorted by Locationary's Saturn platform accurately pinpoints the geolocation but also other dynamic data, such as opening times.

What next? It's likely Locationary will help with Apple's bid to take on Google Maps, its main rival in the mapping space (which itself pushed on users as an alternative when it admitted its own Maps was less than ideal). Apple Maps will continue to nibble at Google's feet, but it may be some time until Apple users begin to trust the in-house mapping service as their primary source for navigation and location searching.

Topics: Apple, Google, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Smartphones

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  • Apple buys big data firm Locationary in mapping effort push

    When they can't create it themselves, buy another company! That's sad.
    • so true

      like microsoft bying skype? ;-)
      • Or Internet Explorer back in the day....

        Or Forethough which became Powerpoint...

        Or Hotmail which ended up as Outlook...

        Or Navision which became Dynamics...

        Or Visio, or aQuantive, or any of the dozen and dozens of companied listed here.

        • Right, and what do you guys say about MS when they acquire?

          "When they can't create it themselves, buy another company! That's sad."

          So yeah, Loverock is 100% correct. Using the rules established on ZDNet by apple fans, buying another company for their technology is proof that you aren't innovative. Like apple.
          • Numbers don't lie

            So you are saying that Microsoft has done nothing innovative since they bought all those companies. They have acquired almost 4x the number of companies that Apple has, (158 vs 43 based on wikipedia).

            I guess based on your line of reasoning, you can say that Apple is 4 times as innovative as MS.
          • Are you going on the record with this?

            So you agree that innovation is directly related to the number of companies you acquire?

            Yes or no?
          • Not at all

            I think that innovation takes many forms, and that pretty much all companies can and do come out with innovative products and features.

            Acquisitions can help speed up the process, but usually just allow for a jump start. Sometimes acquisitions are to acquire the people, not the products. Its rare that an acquisition simply gets added in to a companies product line as is.

            I am just responding to the nonsense that you and loverrock are putting up here by showing how the company that you guys call innovative fails when held to the standards you are touting to measure Apple by.
          • I agree with you

            I'm glad that, like me, you disagree with all the apple fanboys who have used MS acquisitions as proof that MS can't innovate.

            So yes, MS is innovative, even if they acquire technology as a starting point.

            "I am just responding to the nonsense"

            Yes, the nonsense that was spouted by apple fanboys. I'm only making fun of it. From the sounds of it, you would make fun of those apple fanboys too. Good to hear.
          • As long as you are consistent...

            While I consider myself an Apple fan and use many of their products, I don't root for other companies to fail, nor do I want to see an all Apple marketplace.

            True competition brings the best for consumers. I want to see a healthy market for cell phones, tablets, computers etc. That way people can pick the product that best suits their needs.

            As for postings, I don't like those who are hypocritical. Just apply your views consistently. So if you want to argue that acquisitions are not innovative (which may be justifiable), apply that to all companies, not just one.
          • Good for you

      • no

        But MS never claimed they don't do that, vs Apple who claims that they invented the whole world from scratch.
        so big difference there.

        MS is also not as arrogant as Apple.
        • How so?

          '...Apple who claims that they invented the whole world from scratch.'
          I'm sure it suits your reductio ad absurdum mentality to spout such utter nonsense but...really!
          Dumb meme post of the day.
        • Can you show us such claim?

          Can you post a link of Apple or Apple fans saying they invented the whole world from scratch? Shouldn't be very hard right?
    • Every Company Has Acquisitions

      For Google acquisitions, which is as many as one a week, see:

      It's a time honored way of advancing a company. See something good that others don't notice, buy it.

      At the bottom their are links for Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo acquisitions.
      • One BIG Difference

        When MS or Google buy a company, they have the resources to use it if they choose.
        Apple still does not have he cartography resources to make adequate use of this and integrate it into Apple Maps.
        Will it help? Short term a slight bit. Long term? No; unless they elect to sink money into the resources needed.
    • Waze?

      But Google, the mapping king, just bought Waze. Funny no one criticized that move. And in the interest of full disclosure; I haveonly ever been an Android/Google user.

      I will always trust Google for mapping over Apple but buying a start up with a developed product isn't sad, it's efficient. Business 101.
  • Another Apple acquisition

    In related news, Apple has acquired a buggy whip manufacturer in order to position itself in the event that automobiles are not well received in the American marketplace. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, also hinted at iPhone 7 which would possibly have an embedded rotary dial on the back of the case, utilizing patents that Apple acquired from the estate of Alexander Graham Bell.

    Cook was quoted, "We will vigorously defend our right to step backward into the past, as innovation has proven to be extremely unpopular with our core supporters - white females over age 60."
    Olden Atwoody
    • You spent time on this post?

      I think you wanted to be funny. True/
    • Other than the word "Apple" this is related.... how?

      Not even successful at funny.
    • You know what makes this twice as funny?

      It has the apple fanboys all upset.

      Clearly you struck a nerve.

      Kudos williamharper.