If you’ve been paying attention to the rumors surrounding Apple’s forthcoming iOS 6 update, you know that one of the biggest pieces of news is that Apple apparently plans to ditch Google Maps in favor of their own in-house mapping software. There have been rumors for years that Apple would do so – they’ve been buying mapping companies since 2009, after all – but now it looks like it really is going to happen. We’ve even seen what appear to be screen shots of the new app.
A report this morning by the Wall Street Journal confirms that Apple has been planning to kick Google Maps to the curb “for years,” but that the growth of the Android platform accelerated those plans. Android debuted in 2008, and Apple bought its first mapping company in 2009 (followed by more map company purchases in 2010 and 2011). Starting with iOS 6, the built-in Maps app will use Apple’s own map data instead of relying on Google Maps. What’s more, Apple intends to encourage developers to use its own mapping service instead of Google Maps. Citing “one person familiar with the plans,” WSJ confirms what we’ve suspected for a few weeks: the new Maps app will be unveiled alongside iOS 6 during Apple’s WWDC 2012 keynote next Monday.
According to the sources, Apple’s goal is two-fold. First, Apple wants to get their own chunk of the ad revenue that comes along with their own mapping service. Second, and more importantly, Apple wants to get its rival off the iPhone. Google has provided the mapping data for the iPhone Maps app since the original iPhone launched in 2007. With the growth of Android, it makes less and less sense for Apple to keep a product produced by it’s fiercest competitor on its flagship device. Switching to a completely in-house Maps app will allow Apple to boot Google from the iPhone almost completely (though it remains the default search engine in Safari).
While Apple’s switch away from Google isn’t likely to do Google serious harm, it’s bound to sting a little. Apple customers – be they iPhone or iPad users – are a significant chunk of the Google Maps user base. Losing them isn’t likely to be particularly pleasant. Google knows this, of course, and is already making plans of its own. Last week they sent out invitations to an event that promised to reveal “the next dimension of Google Maps.” What’s more, Google’s announcement is scheduled for June 6th, a full five days before Apple’s June 11th WWDC 2012 keynote. Invitations to Google’s event went out just two days after the aforementioned screen images of Apple’s new Maps app were leaked.