Apple ended Google Maps contract one year early

Macworld Australia Staff
26 September, 2012
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Apple decided to end its Maps app contract with Google a year early, according to a report, leaving Google rushing to prepare an independent app for Apple’s iOS App Store.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Verge reports Apple made the choice to end its contract with Google ahead of time, believing iOS users weren’t receiving the same quality that Android users were provided.

“Apple apparently felt that the older Google Maps-powered Maps in iOS were falling behind Android — particularly since they didn’t have access to turn-by-turn navigation, which Google has shipped on Android phones for several years,” The Verge writes.

The report claims Google heard of Apple’s decision in the lead up to WWDC this year, where Apple announced its latest mobile OS – iOS 6 – featuring a native, integrated Maps application, and has since begun to create its own iOS version but it will not be ready for “several months”.

Conflicting reports from Bloomberg and Reuters emerged after Schmidt spoke to journalists in Japan, with Reuters concluding that Google haven’t yet submitted an app, and Bloomberg reporting that Schmidt didn’t reveal if Google had submitted its Maps app.

“We have not done anything yet,” Schmidt told the group of journalists, reports Reuters in a story entitled ‘Google Maps not waiting in wings for iPhone 5′.

Apple would “have to approve it. It’s their choice,” Schmidt said, declining to say if Google had submitted an application to Apple for sale through its App Store, reports Bloomberg.

Schmidt revealed that he is still keen to partner with Apple, however. “We want them to be our partner. We welcome that. I’m not going to speculate at all what they’re going to do. They can answer that question as they see fit,” he said.

Apple’s iOS 6 update marks its move away from Google with whom it has had a public falling out, described by Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs as “thermonuclear war”. Apple has ditched the apps for Google Maps and Google-owned YouTube from iOS 6, launched on September 19.

Users have since complained that Apple Maps is substandard, with experts backing up claims, saying that Apple lacked map experts, and was using third-rate data.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu isn’t overly concerned about ‘Maps-gate’. He wrote [via website Barrons]: “The good news is that Maps is software meaning the bugs are fixable and the application will get better over time. For this reason, we view this as a temporary setback. We believe for most users, the new Maps application is a significant breakthrough where the main attraction in its turn-by-turn navigation and new imaging with 3D photo-realistic views.”

Schmidt believes that Apple  made a mistake by ditching Google Maps, however. “We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?”

“What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call,” Schmidt added.

Schmidt did reveal that, despite the issue, Apple and Google do talk “every day”.

The Google leader went on to praise his company’s Android operating system, which Google provides free of charge to smartphone manufacturers. Android is now on 500 million devices globally, making it the most popular mobile operating system.

“Apple is the exception, and the Android system is the common model, which is why our market share is so much higher,” Schmidt said, a fact he believes is overlooked by a media “obsessed with Apple’s marketing events and Apple’s branding.”

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