Apple v Google - the mapping wars

 
Apple Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall demonstrates the new map application featured on iOS 6 during the keynote address during the 2012 Apple WWDC keynote address Apple's Scott Forstall shows off the new 3D map

Three Californian companies - Apple, Google and Facebook - now dominate the internet and are in a battle for supremacy over our online lives. And last night we saw another important episode in the power play between these three giants.

Tim Cook's opening keynote at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference had plenty to excite the real afficionados in the form of upgrades to the MacBook Air and Pro range of laptops, rather less to a wider world which pays attention to a new iPhone or iPad but not much else.

But what was significant to the shape of the industry was Apple's growing love affair with Facebook and the deepening cold war with Google. The announcements about iOS6, the latest version of the mobile operating system which is now more important to Apple than the Mac OS itself, showed Facebook being welcomed inside the tent while Google was pitched out.

When iOS6 comes along in the autumn, hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users will find that Facebook is heavily integrated into everything from sharing photos to contacts and calendar entries that mirror your social networking activity.

Meanwhile, when you go to the Maps app, you will no longer find the Google product that has been there since the iPhone's launch, but a new Apple version. After buying up a mapping business last year, the company is now promising users "Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and an amazing new Flyover view". But not, you will note, the Google Streetview capability that has until now been available on its mobile devices.

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As the internet goes mobile, there's a huge amount at stake for both companies, and maps are a key weapon in the battle to be top dog”

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Last week, in an apparent attempt to gets its retaliation in first, Google unveiled a series of upgrades to its Maps service, including 3D mapping much like that Flyover view promised by Apple.

Google and Apple used to be close allies, with the search firm's Eric Schmidt sitting on the Apple board. But, as was made clear in last year's biography of Steve Jobs, the iron entered the Apple founder's soul when Google launched its Android mobile operating system.

As the internet goes mobile, there's a huge amount at stake for both companies, and maps are a key weapon in the battle to be top dog. The nascent mobile advertising industry is heavily focussed on location based services, so owning the dominant mapping system could prove very lucrative.

The next move in this chess game is Google's. Presumably the firm will release a Google Maps app, complete with Streetview and 3D flyovers, for Apple's iOS 6 in the autumn. Unless Apple wants to take on the competition authorities, it will have to approve the app, and let users choose between the two mapping systems. But consumer inertia being what it is, most will probably stick with the default Apple option.

What next? Google replaced by Bing as the default search engine on iPhones and iPads? Tim Cook may seem mild-mannered compared to his predecessor as Apple CEO, but he's already shown he has the stomach for a fight.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 56.

    Rumour is rife that not only will the turn by turn only be available on the latest Apple products, but it will be chargeable too, as TomTom's deal with Apple to provide the maps has a per-user, per-map charge to Apple, which they will almost be certain to pass on.

    So whilst Android users will continue to get free turn-by-turn SatNav, Apple owners will be buying iTunes vouchers to top up.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    Apple aren't particularly good technically, and never have been. What they ARE good at is marketing, and suckering people into believing that they ARE best. They're actually not. If they ARE, why are they taking so many competitors to court?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 54.

    apple have always copied clever technical ideas and simplified them, just look at the ipod, I had a creative mp3 player years before the ipod came out but with some clever marketing the ipod killed the competition and the rest is history but trying to out do google maps is silly and will cost them.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 53.

    I'm interested to see that Apple claim to have invented this time.

    Can't see them beating Googlemaps- I can however see them marketing a sub standard overpriced underspecced service to its customers and them all falling for it as usual.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 52.

    I have no smart phone or tablet to be "better than" an Apple.

    From my view point, I like to choose my own h/w in desktop computers, use Linux, like open source software, etc. and try to avoid being tied to one company.

    Apple to me represent the opposite, control rather than what I see as freedom. I'd not touch their products for that reason.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 51.

    Lovely etc.

    Nokia Maps (also free) works without network. You can use it as a real navigation device to get you from A -> B rather than as a pretty toy.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 49.

    @bunford

    I'd be interested to hear what tablet and phone you had. Personally I have a Transformer Prime and a Galaxy Note and all I can say is wow. Simply wow.Everything about them, build quality, performance, appearance etc makes them superior products.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 48.

    Does iOS really not have turn by turn navigation built in? What century are Apple using living in exactly? Next you'll be telling me it doesn't currently integrate with Facebook.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 47.

    @bunford I've had an iPhone for years and the software crashes. Most recently it compleatly bricked my phone while upgrading to the latest version of iOS. It's fairly stable but not as good as Apple would have you think.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 46.

    How exactly do Apple "dominate the internet"? Have I missed something?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 45.

    I'll probably stick with the Google app as it has walking and cycling routes. Turn by turn navigation would be a plus though so it would be nice to have both. Do we know yet if this will actually work in the UK?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 44.

    I suppose my real frustration in these threads is just that I can't see why folks can't just decide which platform works best for them and get on with using it. I just don't get the mentality of people that feel compelled to then get on the net and slag off the users of whatever brand they decided against. Probably a good thing we didn't have websites like this during the C64/Spectrum wars....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 43.

    @40 I would agree with most of what you said, but your comments could be applied to just as many 'fandroids'. Some Apple fans are very annoying, but they have become increasingly drowned out by militant Android fans who seem to see it as a mission in life to post to as many places as possible about how they can't stand Apple, ignoring the fact that Google are as bad (in differing ways perhaps).

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 42.

    39 bunford

    I was with you as far as "any other professions". Apple have traditionally been dominant within the creative industries, but in most other professions they're still vastly outnumbered (rightly or wrongly) by users of the Windows platform.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 41.

    @bunford

    Where on earth did you get that from? 'code is far superior', I think not. Apple just have really good PR, a very low user base and a closed eco-system.

    It may 'appear' their code is better, but it ain't the truth.

    In reality both Windows & Android opened their system up to any 3rd party software, a lot of which is rubbish. This gives people like you the impression of quality.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 40.

    37. JN

    Apple stifle innovation, and are the becomings of a corporate monster. The only difference being is that they are seen as fashionable. There is an awful lot of propaganda rhetoric echoed by the Apple and their fans, which are often fool-founded and inaccurate.

    There is one important thing they did contribute to the online community (surprisingly collaborative), and that was Webkit.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 39.

    @ Human Cash Point - I think that's a simplistic view. Apple software and code is far superior to likes of Android and Windows making them more efficient, solid and reliable (hence why film/music studios, musicians, authors and any other professions use Apple products).

    Internal hardware may not be top notch but Apple OS use of that hardware makes it superior to other OS's with top hardware.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 38.

    I have to say, Apple focus on quality and reliability for adults, whereas Android seem to focus on quantity and affordability for the younger market. That's a non fanboy view of using both devices recently.

    I think Apple's mapping service will surprise people. May not have streetview, which is nifty, but will be far superior and mor accurate than Google Maps. Just a hunch I have.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 37.

    @32 I find arrogance and smugness in Android and Apple fanboys. Over the last few years it has become 'cool' to be seen to slag off Apple users. Whenever there is an Apple-related story you see sheep lining up to high-five each other about how they hate Apple. People that get on the net to abuse those that chose another brand tend to show insecurity in their own choice, otherwise why bother?

 

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