After struggling to reach success in mapping capabilities over past years, Apple Inc. has grabbed tools from BroadMap and Catch to spar with Google Maps. BroadMap did not sell its company or name, only the team and mapping technology relevant to Apple’s goals.
Google Maps has proven to be a fierce competitor, but Apple Inc. is allegedly hoping to get ahead in the mapping race. The race should be an exciting one to watch.
Apple Inc. has been persistent in its quest to acquire 15 companies this year, said Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook. Only ten have been publicized. Mapping acquisitions include Embark, Passif chip manufacturers, and Cue and Topsy, specifically geared towards search efficiency. PrimeSense is another one specializing in hardware.
Out of the 15 companies purchased, two are especially of interest: BroadMap team and mapping technology, likely bought within the first six months of this year, and Catch, known to be an Evernote competitor, purchased around August of this year.
The struggle to race with Google Maps in the past few years has required a skilled public relations work to smooth over embarrassing errors. Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has been the spokesman who likely followed internal public relations’ expertise instructions in apologizing for the “product launch disaster” of buying Placebase in 2009:
“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers, and we are doing everything we can to make Apple Maps better.”
Originally, Cook had not wanted to sign the apology letter to customers to appease them for the poor execution and performance of the Apple Maps. He had delegated it to Scott Forstall, former iOS Chief, who refused to comply in October of 2012. Forstall left Apple Inc. shortly after the disturbance.
The failure of the Placebase integration into Apple Maps was especially awkward because it had been positioned as a grand debut, and reports had circulated that the acquisition of Placebase would help Apple Maps match or even surpass Google Maps on the iPhone. It was called a “black eye” for Apple.
Now Apple Inc. executives have grabbed tools from the firms BroadMap and Catch as possibilities for sparring with Google Maps. BroadMap, with clients evenly split between commercial and non-profit markets, is a company that has acknowledged how competitive the GIS market is, and described their “edge” as a combination of specialized GIS knowledge, care for customers, and attention to processes and documentation, all within a flexible, small company environment.
While other Apple Inc. mapping acquisitions this year captured transit and indoor mapping functions, BroadMap concentrates on managing and analyzing mapping data, which could improve Apple Maps on iOS and OS X.
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, agreed that BroadMap is a sleek choice for Apple Inc., but questioned how Catch will contribute to Apple Inc. mapping capabilities. He predicted that Apple Inc. may be planning to use Catch to upgrade its notes applications or expand its listing functions, or use it to enrich its location and social data capability. Sterling found these possibilities “intriguing.”
Catch.com has “caught” the Android-mechanized smartphones and tablets, resulting in millions of new users: Catch Notes, AK Notepad and Compass are its most notable mobile applications, which can run on iOS and the Web.
As Apple Inc. continues to strive to get ahead in the mapping race, grabbing tools from BroadMap and Catch as part of their armor to spar with Google Maps could take them where they want to go. Watch and find out, because improving mapping capabilities helps everyone less likely to encounter confusion.
By Danelle Cheney