Apple Finally Acquires the Mapping Knowledge It Urgently Needs

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-07-21 Print this article Print

But Apple didn’t need to do this and it didn’t need to keep a good map application out of the hands of users. For example, Apple could have simply stayed with Google’s mapping which it already knew worked because that’s what Apple had been using for the first versions of iOS.

Or, if Apple had wanted good mapping capabilities, it could have gone with the experts and signed up to use Navteq’s maps. Navteq is the provider of maps for aircraft and marine navigation, as well as most of the dedicated GPS products used by consumers.

But there’s a problem. Navteq is owned by another rival, Nokia. There’s no chance that Apple could admit when its mapping app was being planned that a company that it was trying to beat in the marketplace might know more about something than Apple, the coolest of them all.

So as a result, Apple failed. What followed made for a lot of fun location browsing as the Internet filled with the results of Apple’s mistakes, some funny and some not so funny. Fortunately for Apple, its stockholders and its customers, Apple’s new CEO scores a lot lower on the hubris meter. Rather than posturing, Cook went about fixing.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t all that long before Cook and others realized that figuring out mapping on their own was much more difficult than they’d realized. This time they went looking and found a small startup that actually knows maps. The marriage with Locationary was consummated. Financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed.

There are many who bemoan the untimely passing of Steve Jobs. But in the long run it’s probably the best thing that could happen to Apple, and the mapping debacle along with the efforts to fix it is only one illustration. The difference is that now Apple is being run by grown-ups, and it’s no longer the fiefdom of a single person who rages about nuclear war and tries to use any tool at hand–legal or not–to eliminate rivals.

Cook may not be the charismatic leader that Jobs was, but even Apple needs to reach the point where it’s being run like a company rather than a cult. What’s perhaps less obvious by those who loved Apple as a cult is that the company will weather the storms of globalization much better under Cook’s guidance.

While there are some who will point to Apple’s shrinking market share and point to Cook, they should be pointing to the fact that Apple is still a major player, and thanking Cook. Now, at least, there is a much better chance that Apple users will get the mapping software Apple should have delivered many months ago.


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