Dan Gilmor: Who Is Winning The Battle Between Apple And Google Maps?

Dan Gilmor: Who Is Winning The Battle Between Apple And Google Maps?

Guardian columnist tells us that if we upgraded your iPhone to iOS6 and got lost because of the map app, we're the collateral damage in a monopolists' war.

Dan Gilmor, The Guardian
  • 27 september 2012

Powered by
This article titled “Maps: site of an epic territorial struggle between Apple and Google” was written by Dan Gillmor, for on Tuesday 25th September 2012 20.06 UTC

So, iPhone users, how do you like being collateral damage?

If you “upgrade” to iOS6, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, you are going to lose an essential app that was native and bundled in previous systems. What you’ll get instead is, by all accounts, inferior to what’s gone missing. I refer, of course, to the mapping software that Apple has cobbled together from several small-company buyouts and its own considerable, if inadequate to date, efforts to create a serious rival to the banished Google Maps.

If you are an iPhone user, you’re suffering – I use that term almost in jest, as this is a classic #FirstWorldProblem, in Twitter hashtag lingo – as a consequence of a war between two corporate giants. In this particular case, your situation stems from: Apple’s desire to dominate tomorrow’s computing; its absolute loathing of Google; and its willingness to treat customers badly, at least in the short term, in order to achieve corporate goals.

This is nothing new in the technology world. In its heyday, Microsoft made all kinds of unilateral decisions to thwart competition, caring not in the slightest – monopolists don’t have to care – that it was giving its own customers fewer and, in some cases, inferior choices. Apple has entwined its mobile customers so completely at this point that they’ll tend to accept any and all abuses of this kind. Just try to read an Amazon Kindle book, which currently dominates the ebook market, on another platform. The list goes on and on and on.

It should not be surprising that Apple’s mapping solution is nowhere near as good as Google’s at this stage of its development. But there’s reason to believe it may never be. As the Atlantic magazine’s Alexis Madrigal pointed out in a deep look at the systems and people behind the Google product, this team has been doing things with enormous care and precision for many years now, and shows no sign of slowing down.

Apple has the deepest pockets in the corporate world, however, with more than $100bn in cash and a sales machine that mints billions more each month. It’s spending some of that to make a competitive mapping product. Already, the production values of its app – the way it looks and feels – are better than Google’s in some ways, though the details of streets and places lag far behind, with Escher-like results brightening the day of countless internet wags.

Apple is also spending some of its cash on lawyers, battalions of them around the world, suing companies that have the temerity to make Android-powered hardware. Samsung is the primary target so far. This “lawfare” is related to the map battle, because the larger strategic goal for Apple is all about controlling mobile computing and everything that relates to it. At this point, Google and its Android allies are the most serious impediment.

Maps are dashboards to incredibly valuable information and services. When Apple sends its users to Google Maps, as it did in the past, it was sending them into the Google ecosystem, where the search giant can leverage its own area of dominance: online advertising. In coming years, as we do more and more with our mobile devices, whichever company can get us to use its dashboard will have a big advantage in other areas of mobile activity, especially commerce.

I’m not fond of Apple, as I’ve noted here, because of its incessant, and increasing, control-freakery towards suppliers, software developers and customers. But I’d rather see it compete with its own maps than let Google utterly own the field.

Google and Apple aren’t the only alternatives in the mapping universe. Nokia is among a number of companies investing in the field. I’m not fond of the notion, however, that giant corporations should control mapping in any event. So I’d like to see the great Open Street Maps project get even more traction. Its goal is to create a global, user-generated and open map database that anyone can use. If more people would take the time to add their knowledge of their local areas, it would get even better.

Meanwhile, users of Apple’s mobile devices have to choose between getting the latest operating system tweaks and a native mapping app that gives reliable results. My suggestion: if you feel compelled to use iOS6, use Google or Nokia maps from the browser, realizing that you won’t get the coolest features. Or stick with iOS5. Or, if you can’t imagine life without doing what Apple tells you to do in every respect, be prepared to not find what you’re looking for, or end up somewhere you didn’t expect.

That’s how life goes when one company launches its weapons at another, and you’re in the line of fire. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

Image via BGR


Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Related Expert

Ross Martin

Broadcast Media

Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

Fashion Yesterday

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed september 26, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs Yesterday

New Mentorship Ecosystems Benefit All Levels Of An Organization

PSFK’s Future of Work report explores how technology is being leveraged to support cross-team communication

Automotive Yesterday

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Op-Ed Yesterday

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: How Will Companies Staff The Workplace Of The Future?

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary, AltSchool and thinkPARALLAX examine the ways that a people-first workplace might disrupt the job hiring process

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Mischievous Drone Will Drop Paint-Filled Balloons On Targets Of Your Choosing

A German photography team developed the flying device to accurately deliver a payload wherever needed


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Fashion Yesterday

100 Backpacks Made For The World’s Top Influencers

Heineken and TUMI have collaborated on a unique custom NYC-inspired bag

Financial Services Yesterday

This Peer-To-Peer Insurance Company Is Powered By Bots

Lemonade is a new product designed to lighten the paperwork and provide instant, helpful service when needed

No search results found.