Sunday, March 18, 2012

Google Maps comes to iPhone; Apple to acquire TomTom?

Google Maps for iPhone

The Google Maps app is now available for the iPhone and other iOS devices

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that Apple ditching Google Maps in the iPhone 5 in favor of their own app was widely panned this year, with GPS World dubbing it the location story of the year. And the news continues to be bad for Apple. Earlier this week Australian police warned people about using Apple maps, although that debacle may not have been entirely their fault. So with that background, here are today’s related stories:

Google Maps comes to iPhone

Late last night, Google announced the release of their iPhone app, which is available for free and includes turn-by-turn navigation and StreetView. It is also available for the iPad and later iPods, but is optimized for use on the iPhone 5. Engadget has a first looks review saying in part:

Despite all the positive signs, it’s fairly clear from a cursory inspection that Google was focused on the essentials first and niceties second.

Apple to acquire TomTom?

We’ve seen this rumor before, but it’s circulating again after an analyst estimated there is a 30% chance that Apple would acquire TomTom. While some writers have questioned why this would happen since TomTom supplies much of the information causing Apple’s headaches, this is a specious argument. The problem seems to be that Apple has little experience at integrating map and POI data from disparate sources, something TomTom has done for years. I’ve been skeptical myself for another reason – Apple doesn’t have a history of large acquisitions and this would be their biggest by far. Still, I’ll give the rumor a little more credence after seeing this rationale:

One factoid which supports the theory is the fact that Apple has stacked up $83 billion in cash outside the U.S., which it can’t use to buy back stock, pay dividends or to acquire U.S. companies without suffering a stiff income tax hit. An obvious alternative: buy non-U.S. companies. Like TomTom.

Why it matters

Why are these two mobile behemoths battling it out? Location, location, location. Whoever’s map app you are using gives the provider location and local search data – traffic info, which stores you search for and visit, etc. Which is powerful data for improving search and providing relevant ads. These companies are navigating following the money.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. New Google Maps app is much nicer than the app deleted from iOS 6 🙂

    My iPhone may live a little longer now, before I replace it with an Android….

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