Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

Summary: The rumor mill once again hints that Apple could be gearing up to roll out a Maps product - a silly move, considering the reasons that beating Google would be more work than it's worth.

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TOPICS: Google
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At the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York last week, Google VP of Location and Local Services Marissa Mayer fielded some questions about the widespread popularity of its mapping app, specifically what might happen if Apple rolled out its own map app and booted Google Maps in favor of its own product on iPhones and iPod Touches.

The rumor has been floating around for a couple of years now as Apple has made some small acquisitions of mapping technology companies in the past. But it was the recent revelation that iPhones have been building a secret database of the device's whereabouts that has sparked the speculation mill again.

Mayer smartly dodged the "what if" question. After all, why would she want to respond to something that hasn't happened yet? Still, the buzz got me thinking about what a bad move it would be for Apple to try to go up against Google in Maps. From the Apple standpoint, it goes against the model - which is, for the most part, to develop software that helps sell its hardware. A Maps offering doesn't help Apple directly sell more iPhones, iPads or Macs.

But the better reason is because Google has raised the bar to a level where any other mapping product that hits the market will have to invest in building something that's more than just a map and more like a map platform. It would be a rough road - and a silly one to venture on for Apple - seeing how Google has raised the bar so high.

Here are five ways that Google rises above the others and should cause newcomers to the mapping game to think twice:

1. Street View: It's gotten Google into some hot water over privacy (and WiFi tapping) issues but you have to admit that the ability to virtually be transplanted into a location and see what it looks like via Street View is pretty cool technology.

2. Google Earth: The integration of a technology that allows users to "fly" from one location to another and the addition of 3D technology, to provide some real-life depth to buildings and other structures.

3. Business listings: About a year or so ago, I attended a free Google workshop that was targeted at small business owners interested in learning more about how to promote their businesses online. At the time, the company was pushing detailed business listings, a feature that allowed a business owner to advertise things such as hours of operation, credit cards accepted and more. Now, those listings - managed and maintained by business owners - are a key piece of the results within Google Maps, both the browser-based and mobile app versions.

4. Mobile search: When you're in a strange town, the better search bar isn't the one in your phone's browser but rather the one on Google maps. From within in, you can find the closest gas station, ATM or pizza joint. Sure, you can get directions but any mapping app will do that but Google's mobile map also lets you add layers to your mobile experience, such as terrain conditions, real-time traffic or Wikipedia entries about locations.

5. Android's growth: Even if Apple were to pull the plug on Google Maps for the iPhone in favor of its own mapping product, there's still a strong install base with Android phones, which have been quite the thorn in Apple's mobile side. Sure, losing all of those iPhones would be tough on Google but it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Google already has plenty of competition when it comes to mapping - and, at this point in the game, Microsoft's Bing is the best contender, offering many of the same mapping tools and features. But for the overall experience, Google remains at the top of the list.

If Apple wants to go head-to-head with Google on location-based services, that makes more sense. But Apple certainly doesn't need to kill itself trying to build a mapping product that will rival Google's. It would just be a wasted effort.

Topic: Google

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  • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

    I'd suggest that Bing still has a fighting chance.
    mrmckeb@...
    • Google actually is a leader in social here though...

      @mrmckeb@... It does, they have some pretty sweet map features. However, Google has one thing going for it in Maps that it has in no other service: They are social leaders. Bing has a long way to catch up in this (even if they get navigation going).
      jivester
      • There are many map companies that do well in various countries, but which

        @jivester: ... are unknown in USA.

        While content-wise obviously Google is leader, technically it is not that difficult to match what Google does if serious company like Apple does an effort in number of years.

        Obviously, Apple is not going to push off Google Maps unless it has it's system ready enough to be competitive.

        But at least points #3 and #4 from Samuel's list are already in Apple's territory. The company builds big database of all kinds of local advertisement possibilities, so they will be ready to integrated into Apple's own map service once it will be available.

        But, most probably, it will be not now yet.
        DDERSSS
    • As well as MapQuest.

      @mrmckeb@...

      I am finding Google Maps old and full of errors. The maps at both Bing and MaoQuest are a step above.
      Bruizer
      • Swarm Intelligence

        @Bruizer I hope you are contributing to swarm intelligence! http://www.google.com/mapmaker
        jivester
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer Interesting, I never get lost with my Android GPS.
        slickjim
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer
        Interesting.....
        One of my biggest issues the reason I stopped using Mapquest was the significant level of inaccuracy.
        :)
        rhonin
      • Re: Swarm Intelligence

        @jivester Doesn't seem to be working properly in the UK. :/
        seaniepie
      • Uh... Other way around.

        @Bruizer You and the 5 other people who still use mapquest...
        snoop0x7b
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer As a Ag, Au, and PGE prospector, I find Google Earth satellite photos INCREDIBLY useful. Especially when I can overlay gov't claims, assessment, mineral deposit inventories and more onto the Google aerial photos. Did I mention that my Garmin GPS MapSource software allows me to place my daily personal downloaded routes, waypoints, and plot trails onto Google? Dragging the cursor over positions of my plots even tells me the time of day I was there. Could Apple so this for me for the last 9 years? (a big fat) "NO".
        Feldwebel Wolfenstool
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer

        Mapquest is still around? Bing maps are usually my second choice to Google maps.
        DonRupertBitByte
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer "The maps at both Bing and MaoQuest are a step above."

        Is MaoQuest what they're forced to use in China?
        jgm@...
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer

        I've noticed problems on Google Maps, as well, but looking at Bing Maps for the first time for my area, I see glaring problems. Towns are in the wrong place. Satelite imagery is too low resolution for metro areas. Bing Maps has years of catching up, and meanwhile WP7 is going to suffer as a result. I really like what I see with WP7, but inadequate maps is a deal breaker.
        Marcos El Malo
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Bruizer

        OK, I just checked Map Quest as well. While MapQuest is better than Bing as far as mapping streets, resolution of satellite maps is completely inadequate, my town doesn't even show up (the streets do, just not the town name) at any resolution of street maps or satellite, and to top it all off, Map Quest is unacceptable slow. Map Quest is years behind. Worse than Bing, which at least had my home town within 5 km of where it is supposed to be.

        Google Maps has a lot of warts, but it is effectively the only game in town.
        Marcos El Malo
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to comp

        @Bruizer

        Bing is useless in my country, while google maps is updated so you people have to take into consideration how good are other map solutions outside the Unites States.

        Remember there is a bigger world outside U.S.A. borders.
        czorrilla
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Marcos El Malo
        What area are you seeing road labels off? When I use bing it's usually right on, but I do live in the US.

        BTW: AFAIK bing uses navteq data for it's roads and that is usually pretty good, but maybe not everywhere.
        pdemaio
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Marcos El Malo. My wife uses Map Quest becasue that is the 1st thing she used. However, is has errors, and always appears to be way outdated. I know for a long time Bing had way more up-to-date satellite images and Google, but I think that has recently changed. And direction - at least in the mid-west are pretty good by both, Bing and Google.
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

      @mrmckeb@... Yep and Apple will likely turn to Bing.
      slickjim
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Peter Perry
        And Bing will be Ovi--er, Nokia Services. Which is already better in a lot of ways (and not so great in others) compared to Google.

        The 3D Ovi Maps only work in limited ways, but OMG are they breathtaking. If that goes "everywhere" Google will be the clear #2 in some areas.
        x I'm tc
      • RE: Google Maps: Five reasons that Apple, others shouldn't even try to compete

        @Peter Perry (just concurring with jdakula): if 3D Ovi Maps can get better labels, search, more zoom (up to a street view), it will kick ass. I spend literally hours and hours (supplemented with Bing and Google Earth) looking at the stunning depiction of cities. 3D Ovi Maps have to be seen to be believed!
        Roque Mocan