Apple's decision to ship its own mapping system in the iPhone 5 and
iOS 6 was made over a year before the company's agreement to use
Google Maps expired, according to two independent sources familiar
with the matter. The decision, made sometime before Apple's WWDC event
in June, sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app - an
app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not
scheduled to ship for several months.
"Apple decided to end the deal and ship the new maps"
As rumors and leaks of Apple's decision to announce the new iOS 6 maps
at WWDC in June filtered out, Google decided to respond with a display
of strength - the search giant hastily announced its own mapping event
just days before Apple's event. Dubbed "the next dimension of Google
Maps," the event was designed to showcase new technologies like
low-level aerial 3D photography and Street View backpacks - a
chest-thumping exercise meant to highlight Google's significant head
start in collecting mapping information, but which offered very little
in the way of consumer-facing features.
For its part, Apple apparently felt that the older Google Maps-powered
Maps in iOS were falling behind Android - particularly since they
didn't have access to turn-by-turn navigation, which Google has
shipped on Android phones for several years. The Wall Street Journal
reported in June that Google also wanted more prominent branding and
the ability to add features like Latitude, and executives at the
search giant were unhappy with Apple's renewal terms. But the existing
deal between the two companies was still valid and didn't have any
additional requirements, according to our sources - Apple decided to
simply end it and ship the new maps with turn-by-turn.
""What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind?""
The reports were validated earlier today by Google chairman Eric
Schmidt, who was quoted by Reuters saying "what were we going to do,
force them not to change their mind? It's their call." Schmidt also
said that Google had "not done anything yet" with an iOS Google Maps
app, and that Apple would ultimately have to decide whether to approve
any such app anyway. "It's their choice," he told Bloomberg. Google
Maps VP Brian McClendon has also repeatedly said he's committed to
offering Google Maps on all platforms, indicating that an iOS app will
Interestingly, Apple either didn't know or didn't expect that
consumers would find its new maps to be deficient - when iOS software
VP Scott Forstall introduced the new mapping system in June, he called
it "beautiful" and "gorgeous" and stressed that "we're doing all the
cartography ourselves." The company was forced to adopt a different
tone last week as complaints about the maps spread, saying the "new
map service is a major initiative and we are just getting started with
it." The company also promised "continuously improving" maps, and said
that "the more people use it, the better it will get." Indeed, some of
the more egregious errors spotted by users are already getting fixed,
although New York's bridges are still distorted in Flyover and the
Statue of Liberty remains missing.
""This new map service is a major initiative and we are just getting
started with it.""
Ultimately, maps are just one more front in an increasingly high
stakes war between rival ecosystems as PCs give way to mobile devices.
Apple and Google both plainly understand that phones and tablets are
most powerful when used in conjunction with sophisticated cloud-based
services, and both seem determined to own and integrate the entire
experience - ownership that will lead to dominance in the next era of
computing. A few customers getting lost along the way seems to be
acceptable collateral damage.