Apple Snaps Up Broadmap, Catch: Reports

Apple quietly acquired the mapping company Broadmap and note-taking specialist Catch this year, according to reports.

Apple acquisition

Apple acquired two technology firms, BroadMap and Catch, earlier this year in the company's typically secretive manner, according to reports.

BroadMap is a digital mapping company and a provider of geographic information system (GIS) tools for businesses. "BroadMap provides government, nonprofit and commercial business partners with custom-fit Geographic Information System (GIS) solutions," states the company's Website. Further, it describes itself as "a driving force and pioneer in the areas of digital mapping products and services, telecom, location intelligence and Web and mobile applications."

Customers include MapQuest, Nokia and Nielsen. Apple may have indirectly confirmed that it acquired the company's technology and talent by issuing the following boilerplate statement to All Things D's Ina Fried: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Confusion surfaced when a Twitter account associated with BroadMap denied the buy. "Sorry to disappoint everyone, but contrary to current reports @BroadMap has not been purchased by Apple," said a tweet that since appears to have been deleted, according to The Wall Street Journal's Daisuke Wakabayashi.

LinkedIn tells another story. Wakabayashi wrote: "Other evidence suggests that a deal actually happened. For starters, what appears to be the LinkedIn page of BroadMap Chief Executive Daniel Perrone says BroadMap was acquired by a Fortune 5 company." (Apple technically is number 6 on the Fortune 500 list, noted Wakabayashi.)

Given the evidence and unlikelihood that Apple erroneously issued a statement confirming the deal, the consensus is that Apple bought BroadMap's technology and staff, but not the brand.

The move could help Apple bulk up its Maps app and related services. The company took a critical drubbing when it replaced Google Maps with its own app in iOS 6. Google Maps returned to iOS with a streamlined interface and still remains a favorite.

Apple has also acquired Catch, a note-taking specialist, Fried reported. "Catch was a company with a multi-platform note-taking app that mysteriously shut down just four months ago," noted a report in The Verge.

The Evernote competitor, formerly called Snaptic, allowed users to take notes on their iOS and Android devices as well as their PC browsers via extensions, according to TechCrunch. After having raised more than $9 million in funding, the company announced its closure in late July, instructing users to export their data before the end of August.

At the time, the startup released the following secretive statement: "Catch has made the difficult decision to take the company in a different direction. As such, we will be terminating service next month. We value our users and have greatly enjoyed providing Catch to millions of people over the last several years, but it is time for us to move on.

"Catch will no longer be available after 30 August 2013. Please follow these directions to download your data before this time," the statement continued.

Now that direction seems clear, and it points to Cupertino.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...