Apple’s maps strategy is working just fine

“Apple made two smallish acquisitions of map-related companies last week, Locationary and HotStop, that have produce some sneering press coverage since clearly in both instances the purchase is in a way an admission that Apple’s Maps product continues to be markedly inferior to Google Maps,” Matthew Yglesias writes for Slate.

“But I think that’s the wrong way to look at it,” Yglesias write. “The purchase of these companies is a confirmation that Apple’s risky Maps strategy is continuing to pay dividends and in retrospect we’re going to look back at this early Tim Cook decision not as an embarassing fiasco but as a gutsy savvy move.”

“Now what Apple needs to do is keep iterating so that its Maps app keeps getting better. In Apple’s ideal world, mapping applications will at some point reach an era of sharply diminishing returns so that Apple and Google will reach maps parity,” Yglesias write. “But an acceptable outcome is one in which Apple never catches Google in maps quality, but simply never allows Google to gain a large enough lead for it to become complacent about the quality of Google Maps for iOS.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Apple buys online transit-navigation service HopStop – July 20, 2013
Apple escalates maps war by nabbing Locationary – July 19, 2013
Apple acquires crowdsourced location data company Locationary – July 19, 2013
Google’s new 3D Maps destroy Manhattan with melting buildings and buckled streets – May 22, 2013
U.S. patent application reveals Apple is working on ‘Street View’ mapping technology – April 4, 2013
Apple acquires indoor location company WifiSLAM for $20 million – March 23, 2013

55 Comments

    1. I have to disagree. I loved Apple Maps until it took me to the wrong location! I was traveling near a big city so can’t use the excuse of the location being remote. The data still needs work and until I feel like Apple has had enough time to get it right I will not be using anything other than Google Maps. Also the latest Google Maps application is beautiful!

      1. Agreed. Apple maps can’t find simple addresses that google and mapquest find. Every other time I give it a chance and it lets me down. Why doesn’t apple just buy mapquest for crying out loud

        1. When I look for a Starbucks, or quick fast food while away from home on vacation Apple Maps has been always wrong. Always. I can’t figure out why something as obvious and institutional as chain restaurants don’t have accurate data in maps. Can’t Apple just call Subway and say, hey we want people to find your restaurants. Give us a database of every restaurant address you have in the world?

            1. Ah, we’ll I always take the time to send in adjustments, so if you ever find a McDonald’s or Starbucks right by the central entrances to Myrtle Beach you’re welcome.

            2. I think people don’t question Google when its wrong, being the defacto but notice it on Apple maps. Fact is it takes years to get maps right and as far as I am concerned Apple maps is pretty good and nicer to use. Bit surprised to hear about this ‘great new Google Maps interface’, can’t imagine that ever being applied to Google but will have to take a look, certainly haven’t noticed it as yet.

      2. In the last month it’s been a crapshoot with either app. I had Apple Maps give me the wrong location and directions on one occasion and in a huff of, “Never again,” I defaulted to Google Maps which gave me the same damn faulty result with a different location. I’ve resorted to checking both against each other to insure the location is accurate as well as the directions.

      1. Precisely and have posted some of the same below. If your not realistic with a critical and discerning eye you will miss your warts and what the competition does better. If all someone wants is fanboy give me 50 five-stars of love status, fine. But the blind eye will hold you back from improving products and only open the door for your rivals.

    2. I sometimes use Google Maps for transit directions in NYC. It gives strange results fairly often. For example, one time it told me that a trip would take 16 minutes. I thought that was extremely short (about 10 minutes too quick of a trip), and so looked at the details. I noticed that the walking portion at the end started at 10:18 PM and ended at 10:08 PM. In other words, Google Maps was telling me to walk so fast that time reversed and I ended at my destination 10 minutes before I left the subway stop.
      I’ve had other strange results like that from Google Maps fairly often. I think the difference between me and apparently a massive portion of the public is that I don’t assume that bugs only exist in new things. It is a common human phenomenon that people gloss over problems in things they are used to, but hyper-focus on glitches as an excuse to reject something new.

    3. Apple Maps still has serious flaws, database issues. Almost since it came out, I have repeatedly reported serious errors with no changes to correct them. I’d like it if it were accurate. In places where it is accurate, I’d use it. Everyplace else, don’t risk your route on it.

  1. I have a friend who used apple imap to travel from NYC to little falls using the back roads. From there they went to cooperstown, all through the back roads. No problems whatsoever.

    Try using google maps and when you lose connection, you will be utterly lost. Imaps loads a far wider area than the POS where Eric the mole lords it over.

  2. “clearly in both instances the purchase is in a way an admission that Apple’s Maps product continues to be markedly inferior to Google Maps”.
    ??? Just like googles waze acquisition shows the reverse?

    Google maps is bad in Australia. Doesn’t recognise one way roads and guides you down them the wrong way. Apple maps are far from perfect but are getting better at a faster pace than Google are becoming correct with directions

    1. Yes, but Waze is awesome and will be a definitive reason for many people to choose Google maps over Apple. In fact I was an Apple maps fan until I used Waze. I use Waze over Google and Apple maps and now that Google bought them, once Waze become integrated into Google maps, I will instantantly become a Google user along with 30 million other loyal Waze fans.

      It was a total failure on Apple’s part to allow Google to buy Waze. Google will take the lead and these new purchases on Apple’s part is trying to play catch-up. They clearly know that with Waze, Google will be a force to recon with!

      1. As we all know Apple is incredibly good at social media. So it is difficult to believe they did not purchase Waze with a healthy subscriber base. We shall see …

      2. My understandimg is that Apples map technology has amplitude and direction. Apparently, not compatable waze and google will both die in the coming raster disaster.

    2. Do you really think a continent of prisoner offspring
      is due the same attention as Great Briiton……..of course not.
      The more you bloaks wring you hands and harp about it
      the more often the iMap team slides your file to the bottom of the pile. Now go drink you 6 pack of Fosters and man up!

  3. I have found myself reaching for Apple maps over Google maps more and more, to the point where last week I moved Google maps off of my front page. I find Apple maps easier to read. Something about the way they decided to draw the same streets makes them easier to absorb. You could compare it to the same way some fonts are superior to other fonts for clear concise communication. Apple maps are like a superior font.

  4. This article makes no sense. it seems to make rational sense. apple doesn’t have navigation for walking or mass transit. they purchase a company that provides that, and now they have that option. What is gutsy about this? If apple didn’t make this purchase then you could draw a conclusion that apple maps is inferior to google maps due to not having different types of navigation. So how did this story even get published?

    1. I think it’s the “gutsy-ness” of choosing to chuck Google-powered Maps in the first place, and to continually improve the product (buying out people who do what you want to do better than you could do on your own) rather than admit defeat and come crawling back to the data-mining overlord.

      And I hope Apple keeps it up, because I want to rub it in my Android-loving friends’ faces when the day comes that Apple Maps clearly and unequivocally outshines their precious Google Maps. Mature attitude? No. But I’m sick of my close-minded friends poking fun at my phone in their ignorance.

    2. Google was a terrible partner for Apple, stealing its stuff and stabbing Apple in the back by turns. Google Maps on iOS was inferior to its offerings on other platforms until Apple forced the issue by releasing its own maps app with a few technical advantages. Google was forced to quickly update its maps offering for iOs and incorporate some of Apple’s approach. This eliminated the negative influence of Google Maps on iOS devices. Thus, Apple’s primary objective was achieved. Apple’s next objective is to make Apple Maps more desirable than Google Maps. This will help pay for the whole development effort by providing a new, long term advertising revenue stream. It will also keep the pressure on Google to maintain the quality of its iOS maps service, keeping iOS devices at the forefront of mobile technology. It is a sound and aggressive strategy on the part of Apple management. I will continue to accumulate AAPL as long as Apple keeps making strong strategic moves like developing Apple Maps.

  5. It shouldn’t be long till Samesung is putting together their own maps app to go with their Tizen OS. How much do you wanna bet it has the same missing streets and other errors as Apple maps…….you know…. almost as if they copied Apple! Naw? They would never stoop to anything like that, would they?

  6. Maps in Canada are missing big highways. Unacceptable…i like apple but google is better in Canada. Let’s hope those two acquisitions make a difference!

    Echo off…

  7. Continue to find Google position errors and my brother approaching officially reporting 250 errors where he travels. That said, found Apple Maps is not as good finding business locations in my area and have to switch back to Google from time to time. The number one issue hoping Apple will fix is the roads are too light and hard to see until you zoom in very, very close. Not a problem on Google I can see them clearly at all levels of magnification. Turn-by-turn graphics and Siri’s voice are much better in Maps. Bottom line: Use what works best depending upon what I’m doing. Both programs have pluses and minuses.

    1. This, just the way you’ve put it, is the brilliance of Apple’s Google gambit (say it 5 times quickly 🙂

      From having an inferior Google mapping product festering away, iOS users now have 2 top dogs fighting it out for number one and swallowing up some pretty great players in their own right to give them state-of-the art alternative solutions for every situation and location.

      Win-win, that’s what I say…

      1. Yup, the race to the top will be fun to use and watch. No clear winner yet, because both are excellent in different ways. Fanboys say otherwise, no surprise there … 🙂

  8. I prefer Apple Maps to Google Maps. After all the HYPE, and using both often, I give Apple Maps a slight edge over Google and I expect the gap to widen.

  9. ‘Street View’ is a true Google gem. But I prefer ‘Bird’s eye’ in Bing Maps over Earth for 3-D photographic aerials that rotate in all directions.

  10. After using apple maps few times , I have 2 garmins I put up on eBay ….. Never used google maps on the road just at home and seems fine I guess for directions before the actual trip, but iPhone5 seems the way to go once ios7 comes to play and has been a awesome experience on the road fast clean and on point. 2 purchases made by apple is a big indication they are playing very serious game and are willing to take chances kudos for them. Ios7 maps ability to find directions on your computer and send it over to your iPhone is a plus to me and everyone that starts home searching first.

    1. And by the way “waze” is a joke to me more like a kids game. That’s just me and seriously after google bought the company was it said that it will be a separate company and it won’t be integrated with google maps?

  11. Why no Apple Maps on OSX? Doesn’t Apple think Mac desktops users need love, too? Honestly, how much more would Apple have to spend to get some decent mapping software on the desktop like Google and Bing have? It’s being either pretty stingy or narrow-minded if you ask me. It’s like telling Mac users they have to go to Google for services. I must admit, though, Bing Maps are pretty decent as I’ve used their version of street view. It would be nice if Apple could buy some street view data from someone or start building a fleet of vehicles to get their own data.

    Apple has so much spare cash to burn and yet they keep coming up painfully short on services. Hopefully, once they get into their new headquarters, they can start building better services using a larger staff of employees.

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