Yesterday's launch of Google Maps for iPhone is clearly a win for iPhone users. Apple Maps, despite being rather pretty, failed when it comes to what really matters. Misplaced landmarks, improper directions, life-threatening errors - the problems were frequent and well-documented. Finally, Google has swooped in with their maps product that draws on superior data obtained from years of improving the product. Of course it's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good.
And it's clearly a win for Google. Of course they get to stick it to Apple by coming in and saving the day - but for Google it's more about money. The launch of their native maps app for iOS means one big thing: ads, ads, and ads. Not only ads, but ads based of locations data (it's a maps app, remember?).
But according to one analyst, the launch of Google Maps for iPhone is a mixed bag for Apple.
First, the bad. Not only is Apple forced to accept the fact, once and for all, that they failed in rooting Google from their operating system (which was one of the main points of developing their own maps app in the first place), but it's now going to be harder to make that maps product better.
"Users' input is critical in improving the quality of the application, and Apple will now receive less feedback on its own Maps app what with iPhone owners flocking to Google Maps," says Needham & Company's Charlie Wolf.
He's right, of course. In the wake of the initial Apple Maps hullabaloo, Tim Cook told iOS users that they were better off using a competing maps product, as Apple Maps simply wasn't up to their standards. He also asked users to help them make the app better by submitting feedback and letting them know where they screwed up. If tons of people switch over to Google Maps, millions of little unpaid scouts leave Apple's employ.
Then again, Wolf points out the there is a silver lining for Apple - more interest in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6.
"It has the potential to attract a meaningful number of new users to the iPhone who had previously shunned it because of Apple's well-publicized misstep in releasing a less-than-market-ready product in the first place."
There's a chance we'll hear plenty of the "I can finally get the iPhone 5 (or upgrade to iOS 6) now that there's Google Maps on it" sentiment over the coming weeks. A recent study did find that Apple Maps' problems weren't really a hinderance to people's desire for the iPhone 5, however.
Whatever the effect on Apple, we at least know that it's going to have an effect. Google Maps for iPhone is already making a big splash; it's the top app in the App Store right now and has been since about 7 hours after its launch.[via AppleInsider]