Apple's iPhone 5 Google map flap highlights mobile OS divergence

Just when mobile operating systems were all starting to look alike Apple and Google are separating in iOS. The end result is real differentiation between mobile platforms.

Apple's iPhone 5 maps aren't anywhere near as good as Google's Maps, but the two parties are trying to separate since they compete to be the dominant mobile operating system. Users are in the middle, but one great side effect is that mobile operating systems are carving out unique features.

A warped Apple map decision sets apart iOS and Android.

In other words, the road to mobile OS commodity-ville has been given a detour. Let's face it. Mobile operating systems were getting boring and starting to look alike. The news today is that Google chairman Eric Schmidt said the company is not rushing to provide a Google Maps app for the iPhone 5, according to Reuters.

Of course, Google isn't. Why would Google rush to offer Maps to the iPhone 5? Sure, there's ad revenue and usage. But any iPhone 5 loss there is probably made up with a real differentiating feature for Google's Android.

Also: AU:  Woz: Apple Maps disappointing, but flaws 'not that severe'  | Asia:  iPhone 5 Map 'fixes' Japan-China island dispute  | Perlow:  The innocence of Android fans  |  Apple iOS 6 map flap gives Google geolocation advantage  |  Nokia comes out swinging after Apple's rocky iOS 6 Maps launch  | EU:  iPhone 5 launch: More than 1,000 people needlessly block London's Regent Street  |  Apple takes Maps to the precipice

Here's how this map flap will play out:

  • Apple goes with its own mapping, but can't devote the resources Google can. Is Apple really going to drive cars around with cameras to send data to StreetView? Didn't think so.
  • Eventually, iOS Maps will improve and catch up to some degree.
  • In the meantime, Google will tout its Maps for Android and the integration that goes with it. For Google, Android's mapping and navigation is a compelling feature that will keep many of us with the platform.
  • Toss in Google's Gmail integration on Android and you have unique characteristics.
  • Apple still has its cloud, music and content integration.
  • The two platforms will be differentiated and do things really well and others just ok. Ultimately, users will pick platforms based on unique characteristics.

Now that's just Apple vs. Google. Let's toss Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 into the mix. Microsoft's mobile platform has tiles, unique features and is likely to plug into Office nicely. Windows 8 will connect all the screens on your devices.

Research in Motion's BlackBerry 10 platform---long overdue by the way---looks solid and could carve out a messaging niche.

Add it up and there will be four platforms with unique characteristics and potentially winning formulas. Best of all, users will have choice. In some cases, those choices may be difficult since you'll have to put a value over something like Maps over entertainment and app selection. Picking platforms may be difficult for some folks, but that's a good side effect compared to a bunch of "me too" platforms.