The Apple/Google war rages on; manifests itself in Maps

The Apple/Google war rages on; manifests itself in Maps

Summary: Can Apple release its own maps app that has more features than Google Maps? Or is it just using maps as a pawn in its jihad against Android?

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TOPICS: Apple, Google
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iPhoto for iOS uses OpenStreetMap data, instead of Google - Jason O'Grady

Some things have started to change since the passing of Steve Jobs (witness the Apple dividend) but others not only remain the same, they rage on and even accelerate. Like the holy war between Apple and Google.

Jobs was known to have a chip on his shoulder about Android, claiming that Google unceremoniously stole it from Apple. Biographer Walter Isaacson had this doozy of a quote in Steve Jobs:

I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.

Some things never change.

Google developed an amazing Navigation app for Android and it's free. But it's not available on iOS because Google's loathe to give consumers any incentive to buy an iOS device. Google, after all, wants you to purchase an Android device. And it's not going to put one of its defining apps (like Navigation) on iOS any time soon.

Take that, iPhone!

Android Navigation app for Android - Jason O'Grady

But there's no love lost by Apple either.

In March Apple began using OpenStreetMap data in iPhoto for iOS -- where Google map data would be the logical choice. Google's map data is richer, it includes satellite, terrain and street view imagery, live traffic and information about practically every local business in the universe (complete with phone numbers and reviews).

(You can compare the quality of Apple's, Google's and OSM's map data on this mashup site).

So why would Apple switch to obviously inferior map data in its products instead of using Google's?

One word. Spite.

Just like Google's loathe to release its amazing Navigation app on iOS, Apple's loathe to pay Google to use its map data on iOS. (It's unclear if Apple actually pays Google any cash for its map data, but the location data and queries are highly valuable and Google could probably find a way to make money from it, if it isn't doing so already).

Apple was just testing the water with iPhoto. A spate of rumors over the weekend suggest that Apple is dropping Google as the data provider in its stock Maps app, which installed by default on the home screen of millions of iPhones, iPods and iPads. It would follow similar defections by Wikipedia and foursquare.

Take that Android!

According to the rumors, Apple is going to replace the Google with OpenStreetMap in the version of Maps that ships with iOS 6 -- rumored to make its debut next month at WWDC. But instead of being inferior, rumors suggest that the new Apple offering could one-up Google Maps.

Apple has made several mapping acquisitions since 2009, including Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies and rumors suggest that its been spending the last few years combining them into a super-secret Google-Maps killer. 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman thinks that the result could be a stunning new iOS app that includes 3D renderings of cities and a "much cleaner, faster, and more reliable experience."

I'm fine with change for the better, but I'm not fine with Apple releasing an inferior mapping product because it's in a stupid holy war with Google. Maps is too important an app for Apple to use as a pawn in its game with Google. I use an iPhone because it's better than the others offerings out there, but it's a close race. If Apple takes a step backwards and dumbs down Maps, I won't hesitate to defect to Android, and I suspect that I won't be the only one.

Google Maps has quite a compelling feature set, will Apple be able to compete?

Topics: Apple, Google

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Talkback

13 comments
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  • IOS is by far not only maps

    So, you will change iOS for Android because of Google Maps?
    Why not just use the Google Maps app for iOS?
    danbi
  • Google Maps for Iphone

    danbi, the answer is most likely that the Iphone version of Google Maps has much less features than the corresponding feature on Android.
    lokedhs
  • Inferior from Apple? Not likely

    While this is ALL speculation at this point, my sense about Apple is that no matter how much spite they feel towards Google, they're unlikely to replace Google Maps for an inferior product. That's not the Apple way. That's also why they haven't made the switch yet. But when they do, I fully expect that it will be insanely great. Perhaps not perfect, but enough that the scales will tip enough in their favor that any lack can be easily forgiven by their adoring fans...
    bengregg
  • I don't really care.

    Google maps is good, but the navigation is poor. I am hoping Apple will add voice navigation soon. That would be very nice!
    The Danger is Microsoft
  • iOS is much more than Maps

    You'd really go to Android over one app? And that being Maps? Your the guy writing and telling us what to do. Guess i need to find someone else's opinion to read.
    pefultz
  • From the Mashup

    I'm not sure how you infer the Apple offering is [b]"obviously inferior"[/b] to Google Maps... personally I find it a bit easier on the eyes. But what is "inferior" about it? All the mashup was showing was a default global pic rendered with Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, and Apple's map and I addressed my assessment of the visual but what else? Can it direct one from point A to point B with a stop or two to a Starbucks if needed? All of it for me is beside the point - I use MapQuest on both my iPhone and HTC Thunderbolt anyhow which has voice assisted directions. And I'm not too concerned about how the map looks while I'm driving anyhow as long as the directions are good.
    NonFanboy
    • Amusing

      It is amusing that some troll can vote my post down but lack the cajones to say why... I have a feature to add to the ZDNet voting system - the one who votes down the post should have to man up and say why.
      NonFanboy
      • Thicker skin

        If you intend on doing much talkback/comment type discussion on the Internet, you need to grow a thicker skin. This is the standard convention pretty much everywhere.
        use_what_works_4_U
  • The reality

    "Google???s loathe to give consumers any incentive to buy an iOS device."

    The reality is that Google actually makes more money (a LOT more!) from iOS than they do from Android, because Apple pays them for their mapping service.

    Google is cutting their own throat by not providing similar mapping services as Android has. The high costs that Apple pays to Google, and Google's restrictive attitude to iOS users, are the reasons why Apple is now coming out with their own mapping service in iOS 6, and dropping Google like a hot tamale.
    Harvey Lubin
  • Steve's dead, the war is over.

    But that doesn't mean there's any love lost for Mountain View in Cupertino. If anything Apple, famously self-reliant, is tired of providing input for [i]"The Algorithm"[/i], so by breaking away from Google Maps they kill two birds (3 if you count revenge) with one stone. A. they get an open source, or at least creative commons, solution. B. They stop sending a huge stream of juicy data to Google. Win-Win[-Win]!

    I think you can stop worrying about [i]"Apple releasing an inferior mapping product because it???s in a stupid holy war with Google."[/i] If Apple were taking an "at any cost" strike at Google out of pure spite, they'd have done in [b]years[/b] ago with the release of iOS 4. The fact that Apple has waited this long is good indication that this isn't mere retribution.
    matthew_maurice
  • It depends on the details you want.

    I noticed the Apple Map can't get as close as Google & OpenStreetMap. I do like OpenStreetMap since does show more details than either Google or Apple. However, the most important thing in a map is accuracy and relevancy since I noticed that sometimes that with my Garmin GPS that business either moves or closes that data needed to be updated constantly to make the map relevant and I hope that OpenStreetMap will do.
    phatkat
  • I am curious why my up or down voted don't count.

    On specific stories my votes are ignored. hmmm....must be the Microsoft supported stories. I have no problem when MS is not involved.

    Microsoft - you will believe in us because we insist that you do!
    The Danger is Microsoft
    • I've found the same thing

      Unlike your experience here, I was able to cast votes in this thread but I have had problems in other threads in trying to vote... clicks are just ignored.

      Seems to be no rhyme or reason.
      MacCanuck