Apple Maps blasts off: Cue the antitrust lawsuits?

“Apple Maps is on a tear, taking market share from Google Maps according to new comScore data. Apple fans will cheer, but will U.S. and European antitrust authorities?,” Matt Asay wonders for ReadWrite. “Given the similarities to Microsoft’s illegal tying of Internet Explorer into Windows back in the late 1990s, Apple may be setting itself up for an antitrust lawsuit.”

“To be sure, Apple has introduced significant improvements to its Maps product in the last year. But let’s not kid ourselves: Apple isn’t increasingly winning over maps users because of its product,” Asay writes. “It’s winning over new Maps users because it’s product is tightly integrated into iOS, according to Ben Wood, mobile analyst for CCS Insight: ‘On an iPhone all roads lead to Apple’s maps. They’re putting this front and centre for users.'”

“Apple’s tying of Maps to iOS would almost certainly have run afoul of U.S. and European antitrust laws 10 years ago. Today, it’s not so clear. Whereas a strong case can be made that Apple’s bundling of Maps with iOS harms competition by effectively blocking Google Maps and other contenders from its platform, one can also counter that great innovations are enabled by the practice,” Asay writes. “While Microsoft was adjudged to be a monopolist, it wasn’t a court that stripped it of its market power. It was Apple and the free market. Which is exactly as it should be, to my mind.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Unfortunately, common sense didn’t stop the U.S. DOJ from wrongly assailing Apple in order to further strengthen Amazon’s already pervasive domination of the e-book market, so there’s no guarantee the DOJ won’t commit yet another random act of stupidity.

In this case it should be clear: Google made their own bed, now they can lie in it.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Why Apple included Maps in OS X Mavericks – November 12, 2013
Apple Maps makes killer comeback as Google Maps loses access to world’s most desirable mobile customers – November 12, 2013
Apple Maps puts the hurt on Google Maps – November 11, 2013
WIth iOS 7, Apple’s Maps has arrived; it’s now better than Google Maps – September 25, 2013

34 Comments

  1. Another thing to keep in mind: As Google and fandroids love to point out, Android market share is far greater than that of iOS. You can’t be abusing a monopoly position the numbers don’t support you actually have.

    1. Android hasn’t got greater market share if you look at all the different versions out there.

      IF there was only 1 version of android on devices then yes, but there isn’t one version so apple has bigger market share than android.

      1. You’re wrong. Those Android devices are capable of being updated, it’s just incredibly difficult to do without your carrier’s help. That’s not an Apple issue, nor is it an anti-trust issue.

    2. That didn’t stop the DOJ when Apple only had about 10% eBook sales and they stepped in (some real sh*t) and made sure Amazon would continue it’s monopoly. All under the guise of “the consumer always must get the cheapest price, no matter what the cost to an industry or what other monopoly it creates.”

    3. Is it an anti-trust issue to spend more money than any other company lobbying senators and congress people? Because by doing so, you prevent others from getting a hearing because they cannot spend more money than you!

    1. The difference is that you can’t designate Google Maps as the default maps app in iOS. That’s what may get Apple in trouble, or at least that’s the article’s argument.

      1. There’s got to be one default in any case. What is the default in Andriod for maps? What is the default in IM for any OS?, and so on. As long as there are offerings available to consumers without any hindrance, there should be no case, IMO.

  2. If any company should be hit with an antitrust suit for tying maps to its operating system, it’s Google, forcing handset makers to use Google Maps (and other core apps) in order to use the Android name.

    And how funny, the IDC just reported that “Android” has 80% of the global smartphone market share.

    How on earth can a <20% share of the smartphone market, and <20% of the traditional desktop/laptop market, possibly be considered monopoly abuse?

    1. Matt Assay, who calls himself an “open source executive”, has for a long time entertained these doomsday scenarios for Apple.

      Shitty bitholes like ReadWrite and The Register have provided him space to spout of his dark fantasies.

  3. Yeah, and Apple should fall under anti-trust laws for bundling their own Cloud, Passbook, and iTunes services into their iPhones! And for having a Mail, Camera, and Photo App built in!

    I’m sorry, but what is Apple supposed to do? It’s their hardware, and it’s designed to run optimally with their software. It’s all part of ONE cohesive package.

  4. I do not get a basic premise here: that “a strong case can be made that Apple’s bundling of Maps with iOS harms competition by effectively blocking Google Maps and other contenders from its platform.”

    How is Google Maps “blocked” from anything? I have it, beside the Apple Maps program, and use both of them.

    Has anyone tried using Apple Maps on Android lately?

    1. The only angle they possibly have is that invoking a map link will always launch Apple Maps, since there’s no way to send the data to Google Maps by default instead.

      And *that* angle is shot down by iPhones having less than 20% market share worldwide. That’s so far from a monopoly, let alone monopoly abuse, it’s not even funny.

  5. Anti-trust? This is where Apple reminds everyone that it only has 14% of the mobile market share and Google maps is available free to all of it’s 14% of it’s market in the app store.

  6. Antitrust? Apple has a pathetically small amount of mobile market share. We’re not talking Microsoft Windows by a long-shot. If anything, Google should be facing antitrust suits with that g-damn free Android which is totally wrecking every other mobile platform on the planet. I’d think any product that is given away for free to capture 100% market share would be considered anticompetitive in nature. Apple should have totally gone after Google in court instead of letting Android ruin Apple’s mobile hardware business. Apple Maps don’t add up to anything as far as antitrust is concerned.

    1. I wouldn’t call Apple’s marketshare “pathetically small” because, as you say, they’re competing with an OS that is literally given away.

      And also keep in mind that when people talk about the reach of Android, that it runs the gamut from cheap smart phones (where I suspect the bulk of Android’s numbers come from) to premium smartphones (where Apple is doing quite well, and also – not coincidentally – where beaucoup bucks are.

  7. Apple probably wouldn’t have had to make their own maps app, if Google hadn’t become their giant competitor that wouldn’t offer feature equivalency in their maps app. Especially turn by turn directions.

  8. I don’t get it. I’ve found that when I’m in something that wants to use a map app, I get a list asking which one I want to use. Of course I had installed the MapQuest app on my iPhone. So the only way you won’t get the list of choices is if you don’t install any other map apps. So I guess my question is, is it Apple’s responsibility to have several other map apps installed by default so you have a choice? That would be like asking Microsoft to install Safari, Chrome, and Firefox along with Internet Explorer by default. Sounds pretty silly when looked at in this way. My guess is, this case will be tossed.

  9. I would agree if it weren’t for Apple actually encouraging users to choose the competition when Apple Maps first rolled out (to much disdain, much of which was deserved).

    Sure, Maps is an integral part of the OS, but then again, on Android devices, what’s the default mapping application? I don’t even own an Android device, but I can guarantee you that it’s Google Maps.

    Speaking of which, I suspect if an antitrust lawsuit is in the cards in relation to Apple Maps, that all Apple needs to do is to create a version of Apple Maps for Android.

    The point being, it will probably gain the bare minimum of marketshare among map users, putting Google in a similar situation.

    Though that’s assuming that Google Maps losing markeshare on iOS devices would trigger such action, which I doubt.

  10. Where Apple can stand up to things is that a user has to buy Mac hardware to get OS X. No Mac. No OS X. Additionally, Apple is constantly selling ‘the integrated experience’. Without this logic, one could argue that a travel agent could not sell an all inclusive trip package because the consumer couldn’t choose which airline they fly with as a part of the package, or what shuttle service picks then up at the airport.

  11. Apple will be fine. It was Micro soft that chose not to have feature parity with IE on Macs vs. PC, thus Safari. It was Adobe that chose not to have feature parity with flash, thus HTML 5. And now it’s Google choosing not to have feature parity with its maps application.

    In the above examples, each of those companies claimed their apps were designed to be “cross-platform”. Apple has never made such a claim about their maps app. They have CLEARLY that maps is an iOS exclusive. If you want it, you have to buy into the platform. They HAVE, however, stated that their iCloud apps will work the same on a Mac or PC and guess what? They do! THAT is the true definition of “cross-platform” but you are not prohibited from finding and using alternatives in either case.

  12. Remember, the Microsoft antitrust suit was settled by forcing MS to make a way for people to uninstall IE and allow another app to be the “default browser”

    Apple should allow us to do the same with all native apps. There are some that I never use and keep in a group folder nicely tucked away.

    Although maps is not one of them. I have both maps and google maps installed. But I prefer apple maps. Don’t know why.

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