Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Apple Arms For Mobile War - Apple Maps and Search On the Way?

The alliance between Apple and Google has been splintering for a while now.  Google really fired the first shots.  Android.  Chrome.  Chrome OS.  Then Apple, probably unwisely, retaliated by rejected a couple of Google's apps for the iPhone.  All that lead to some attention from the FCC.

Still, Google continue to sit prominently on the iPhone.  Youtube.  Maps.  But it appears Apple may be offering its own mapping services.  Word has leaded that Apple quietly bought PlaceBase, a mapping service, back in July.  Why no one has seen this, well, that's not the point.  

The point now is Apple has its own mapping services.  Something will come of this but no one knows for sure what this is going to lead to.  The website for the mapping company is down but the former CEO, Jaron Walman, describes himself as a member of the Geo Team at Apple on his Linkedin page.  

Back to the mobile war.  Love it or not, Apple has done some pretty amazing things with the iPhone and it's going to be a thing of beauty to see what Jobs and Co. will come up with using their own mapping software.  It will be a total letdown if Apple merely supplements Google Maps without taking a step or two forward.  

Jobs' reality distortion field, while pretty strong, doesn't necessarily extend to the mainstream mobile warriors who aren't fanboys.  People continue to adopt the iPhone because of Apple-style innovation.  Apple will need to do some real convincing with this new mapping service.

On top of that, what will be the next step?  My guess is search.  Today, there are over 50 million iPod Touch and iPhone users.  Who knows how many more there will be in a year's time or five years from now.  And there are tens of millions of Mac users.  It's quite an ecosystem for apps, mobile, and OS for a company like Apple to drawn from.  It would not be too much of a leap for Apple to jump into the search business.  

Don't think so?  Apple has been in the search business on the Mac for years now.  Maybe they're nowhere nearly as good as Google or even Bing but disrupting the market is what Apple is very good at.  

As a gadget fan, I hope I'm right.  Be it Apple, Google, or Microsoft fighting it out with their billions in the bank (more than 80 billion in cash between them) and push more innovations on us, we all stand to win at the end of the day.

Note:  I like reading comments from readers on exciting new mobile developments.  Many Mac folks are excited about the prospects of Apple integrating more mapping features into iLife or iWorks.  Maybe there is an outside chance that Apple bought PlaceBase merely to offer more features for its core consumer softwares.  3D mapping anyone?  

More at Computeworld, 9to5Mac (has a video of the mapping service demo'd), Macrumors

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