Why Google just crowned Apple’s iPhone king

“By releasing new versions of Google Maps and Gmail for iOS this month, Google helped make the iPhone the best mobile phone on the planet,” Ryan Tate writes for Wired. “Why is Google, the owner of Android and Motorola, helping its ostensible rival?”

“The answer boils down to advertising. Google’s smartphone operating system, Android, has always been incidental to Google’s ad business, the source of virtually all the company’s profits, and Google’s Motorola handset division is, for now, a similar sideshow,” Tate writes. “Google doesn’t particularly care what operating system you use to view its ads or engage with its sites; it just wants to pull you in. Google pumps money into Android mainly to ensure that companies like Apple and Microsoft can’t push its properties off of smartphones.”

Tate writes, “Google Maps would seem a fantastic place from which to sell ads. Maps apps not only know where you are, they know where you’re going and what types of businesses you’re looking for – the sort of “intention” data advertisers lust for. Google Maps for iOS is ad-free at the moment, but seems unlikely to stay that way for long. The Android version, for example, contains ads. Gmail for iOS is similarly a big potential driver of advertising; the web version of the app has always had ads targeted based on the content of e-mail messages.”

“At the same time, adding powerful apps to the iOS ecosystem will surely help sell more iPhones,” Tate writes. “When we asked about this on the @wired Twitter account, we heard from users who had held off on buying or updating their phones until the map landscape improved. Melanie Batenchuk, an automotive writer in Arlington, Virginia, said she’d ‘probably’ upgrade her iPhone now that Google Maps is available. ‘I’ve also been holding off on iOS 6 upgrade on my [iPhone] 4 because I don’t want the awful maps!’ she added.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, Apple’s Maps are not “awful,” but we’ve already predicted why people like Melanie believe such fallacies:

No matter what Apple does, no matter how much better they make Apple Maps, it will now always “suck” in the minds of a large segment of the population… The fool(s) responsible for preparing Maps for release and then releasing it with obvious issues (overblown as they are) and therefore tainting Maps forever should face severe consequences. As in: Pink slip(s)… Apple seems to have learned nothing from the Newton: First impressions mean everything. Apple’s Maps have been Newtonized. All that’s missing is the Doonesbury strip.MacDailyNews Take, September 28, 2012

Related articles:
Analyst: Google Maps for iPhone a mixed blessing for Apple – December 14, 2012
Apple wins again: Much improved Google Maps iPhone app vindicates Cupertino’s strategy – December 13, 2012
Google Maps hits Apple App Store, Google admits iOS Maps app is better than Google Maps for Android – December 13, 2012
Apple promises to fix Maps glitches by rearranging earth’s geography (with video) – December 6, 2012
Apple’s Eddy Cue racing to overhaul Maps – November 28, 2012
Apple to Maps manager Williamson: Get lost – November 27, 2012
Days after Tim Cook’s apology, Apple’s Maps shows improvements – October 12, 2012
Tim Cook open letter: We fell short with new Maps app; we are extremely sorry – September 28, 2012


  1. Apple had no choice but to force Google’s hand into delivering a more complete Maps app comparable to the Android version, but a simple “beta” label or warning may have spared Forstall’s nuts from being serve up on a platter.

    1. Apples maps forced Apple to let Google back in. That’s reality. They didn’t kick Google out because they wanted better Google maps. They kick Google out because they’re tired of Google’s crap. It didn’t work. Apples maps were awful so they had no choice but to let Google maps come back. But this wasn’t some grand scheme on the part of Apple. It’s just a mistake. Personally, I find Siri a much bigger issue. Apple needs to fix that. But at least they were smart enough with Siri to bring it out as a beta product. And as has been stated many times, had they brought out Apple maps as a beta there would be no conversation about such a bad product. All they had to do was keep Google maps and work on Apple maps to make it better. Eventually they could have kicked Google maps out. They just got a little ahead of themselves. It happens. Apple makes mistakes too. Everyone just needs to admit it and move on. Share price down $20 this morning is a much, much bigger problem.

      1. Apples maps weren’t that bad. I had no problem with them from day one. Blown out of proportion on how “bad” they were. Sure there were funny things depending on what your searching or looking at, but most of the time you could see right away if it wasn’t right and know that it will be fixed in the future. Use common sense, its something sorely lacking with alot of people nowadays.

      2. Apple never kicked Google out, so there’s no reason why they would be “forced” to let them back in.

        Apple licensed Google’s map API just as any other company had done. Google only made certain features available to licensees. Apple wanted turn-by-turn directions. Google wouldn’t/didn’t provide that service to 3rd parties, so Apple had no choice but to go on their own.

        And as far as I’m concerned, I’ve had zero problems using Apple’s maps, I can’t say the same for Google’s maps. I’ve run across several wrong locations. I’m not saying Apple’s maps is better, I’ve just used Google’s longer and in that time have noticed errors even though Google has been in this game for years and years. It is impossible for a single company to check and correct all the location data themselves.

        1. That’s correct, they kicked them out. That’s correct, they let them back in. Look how popular Google maps are since they let them back in. As I said, they had to let them back in.

  2. It was my observation that, when Google was the iOS default map, it tended to route you through towns, rather than around them on a by-pass. Driving across country on interstate highways, I have little interest in touring every little town with a business route through it. I guess Google wanted me to be closer to their advertiser, then, if I went in they could report my presence. Seems kind of Big Brother-ish to me.

    1. What do you mean “in prospect”? Do you mean coming later? Hell man it is there now and trully great with LTE. Now I hope Zillow and others who have began using Apple maps will now go back to using Google Maps. Real Estate really needs street view. With no Apple maps on your mac it is frustrating to not have compatability. I know I will be attacked for being illiterate and uneducated like I was yesterday, but Apple Maps are nowhere near as good.

      1. Are you stupid? what makes you think Zillow can afford and would be willing to pay Google millions for nothing. Many developers have left Google maps because of the new pricing terms, Google has to pay for Motorola somehow and Google’s pricing went way up.

    1. That’s today’s knee-jerk, viewer desperate media for you. Everything is a crisis to someone, somewhere, and must therefore be screamed about from the rooftops!

      Apple’s Maps had some problems, but it’s a good app. Just some data and rendering issues. Nothing like the “sky is falling” response the media had.

      Same goes for Apple letting Google Maps on the App Store. There are other maps apps you could use, even before iOS 6. Google Maps is just another maps app, one which Google will use to make money as Google usually does. Definitely not Google declaring the iPhone the smartphone winner, as the media is crowing today.

      Take all media proclamations with a very large rock of salt, particularly when reading political stories. Things are usually never as bad or as good as the story claims.

  3. Google’s plan is being executed perfectly as is Apple’s. The 2 companies have very different visions and Google sending high powered weapons a perceived adversary is evidence enough that while SJ talked thermo nuclear, Cook and Schmidt read it differently.

  4. Don’t think Apple maps are done already, but Apple has to deliver more/different features than Google does to fix the perception problem.

    Get more stuff into maps, features like speed cameras, maximum speed for each location, custom voices – like the traditional GPS packages have and Google lacks. Users will eventually be back. TomTom doesn’t look like a such bad buy now..

    Actually in hindsight it wouldn’t have been such a bad idea to give away a free 1 year subscription to one of the GPS apps (e.g.TomTom or Navigon) when the map storm began, kind of like the iPhone 4 free case program.

    1. No! it would not, 2 for 1 deals are for loser’s like Google or Amazon. Apple’s profit in first quarter 2013 will be 6 to 8 times Google and at least 2 times Microsofts. So it takes a year or two Siri, Maps, CPU design and search are long term projects.

  5. Maps are not perfect….period. I just installed Google maps on my iPhone5 to see how great it really is. The app located my home perfectly. When I clicked on the details of my location, the description details has me in a completely different city!! Next I do the same thing on Google maps via my browser on the laptop. Same wrong location details! People need to get a grip on reality. Google is not perfect, neither is Apple, they all try to do their best. Unfortunately Apple is in the headlines most of the time, and when Google screws up the media turns their back most of the time. Happy Holidays to one and all.

  6. Google has to embrace other platforms, they don’t have a choice. They have to be on as many devices as possible, being used by as many people as possible – that is their business strategy.

    Apple doesn’t need to be, they just need to offer services and software that make their devices appealing and different from what else is available. There is no reason or need for them to reach beyond their own (mobile) platform.

    Microsoft needs to learn a few lessons from Google in this area. They need to get off their butts and start writing software for other platforms as well. If they think they’re going to be able to continue to milk Windows in the mobile space, they’re going to find themselves left behind.

      1. But, Microsoft makes and will continue to make big money in comparison to Google, making money off of Ads will never equal making money off of real products that people want to pay for.

  7. How long are people going to keep falling for the FUD? Granted, Apple Maps was not perfect, but what Map program is? Not Google’s, for sure. This whole issue is not much more than “Antenna-gate,” version iPhone 5…..and people fell for it, hook, line, & sinker. All cell phones attenuate, all map programs have shortcomings….same difference.

  8. Needed to find unknown elementary school for kids bball game. Clicked on address link in wifes email. Apple Maps showed point on map. I laughed at it with my friends since my new iOS Google Map app said it was miles away from there. After being lost for 30 minutes driving in circles (following the new Google Map app), I turned to TomTom out of desparation. TomTom took me right to the location — the very one Apple Maps recommended in the first place.

  9. The tech press has followed mainstream publications down the vortex of pulling in eyeballs by knocking down success. That’s why many sites seize on any opportunity to criticize Apple – it generates hits. Sowing contention generates interest, interest generates hits and hits make them money. Because most sites are simply echo chambers that basically retweet all Apple-related content, the effect multiplies across the web whenever an author takes a pot shot at the company.

    Android, when you think about it, is analogous to the rancid state of technology reporting. Their core business is to pull in eyeballs by monetizing someone else’s original contribution for free. Novelty, the quality of the user experience, and the interest in “getting things right” all take a back seat to making sure their content gets propagated in as much volume as possible.

  10. After mulling over the whole Apple Maps saga, I can’t help but feel that Tim Cook has outsmarted everyone with a fiendishly Machiavellian plan. I believe that Wired has it right, that Google helped out Apple by bringing best-of-breed apps to iPhone. But nobody has followed the story to its conclusion.

    Apple wants to sell hardware, period, and having the best software for their platforms helps them do that, NO MATTER WHO PROVIDES THAT SOFTWARE. A distinction needs to be made here: Apple Maps has been called, wrongly, a terrible app, which it isn’t. The interface is very good, and vector based maps are in every way superior to tiled maps. It’s their MAPPING DATA that sucks, but to be fair to TomTom, Google has far and away the most detailed and complete maps on the planet. Google knows this, and tried to strong-arm Apple into providing more user data than Apple was willing to give, so Google ensured that iOS Maps was missing crucial features, such as turn-by-turn directions, in order to make Android seem more attractive to people who rely on maps.

    By banishing Google’s mapping data, as well as YouTube, from iOS, Apple lit a fire under Google, and the result is a Google Maps app that is probably the best available on any platform, as well as a number of YouTube app alternatives superior to the original. Importantly, Apple only had to take a reputational hit to ensure that the best software was available for iOS, and they got the features they were missing, as well as vector-based maps, without conceding anything to Google. Well played, if you look at it that way.

    The unreported aspect of this story concerns Apple’s internal politics. Could Tim Cook have allowed the fiasco to develop in order to give Scott Forstall enough rope to hang himself? In his Bloomberg BusinessWeek interview, Cook minced no words about his hatred of company politics, and Forstall was widely considered the most political Apple exec, shifting blame to subordinates, taking credit for others’ accomplishments, and utterly alienating his colleagues with his maneuvering and intrigues. Apple had to have known that Maps wasn’t ready for prime time, but still allowed the hard-charging Forstall to convince them to release it. His refusal to sign the apology was all Cook needed to get rid of a pebble in Apple’s shoe.

    Did Cook recognize early on that Maps wasn’t ready but allowed its release anyway in order to not only get Google to play ball, but also to set his house in order? If that’s the case, this is not a man to play chess or poker with.

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