Apple purchases Web mapping software startup Poly9, an alternative to Google Earth. It is unclear whether Apple will continue to endorse Google's applications when it can offer its own brand of the same apps.
Apple has purchased Web mapping software startup Poly9, which could mean the
secretive company is looking to offer its own version of Google Earth.
Poly9 makes Poly9 Globe, which it advertises here
as a cross-browser,
cross-platform 3D globe that does not require any download. Google Earth
mapping technology, but requires users to download a plug-in to access it.
Skype, LinkedIn and NORAD have all used Poly9's mapping APIs for their
existing products. Users may still roam the earth on Skype's Nomad here
and view Norad's
Santa Tracker here
Other than the Poly9 Globe site and its links out to customers that connect
shreds of the company's existence are scant. The Poly9 Website
has gone dark and the company's Twitter account
not been updated since March 11, which is usually a telltale sign that a
company has closed or been bought out. Poly9's Vimeo account
is also calm.
The company's LinkedIn account
is barren, listing a brief description of the
company and Mathieu Pichette
as a software developer. TechCrunch's
Denis Laprise as Poly9's founder.
Apple did not respond to confirm or deny the purchase, originally reported here
by La Soleil newspaper in Quebec
La Soleil said all but two of the company's employees relocated to Apple's Cupertino,
Calif., headquarters to work on Apple's Web
Poly9 marks the second mapping acquisition Apple quietly tucked in since acquiring Placebase
summer. Placebase made an API used to layer
commercial and other data sets, such as demographics and crime data, onto maps.
The application competed with Google Maps, which Apple still uses as the go-to
mapping application for its iPhone smartphone.
It is unclear whether Apple will continue to endorse Google's applications
when it can offer its own brand of the same apps. Apple has been snapping up
startups in a number of areas in which Google plays, even getting into online
advertising by acquiring
What is clear is that Google is facing a rival in Apple that is serious
about the Web, particularly on the mobile front where its iPhone has staked a
major claim and its iPad is blazing a trail for tablet computer.
To taste some of Apple's success, companies are building smartphones and
tablets based on Google's Android operating system.