The sky is the limit for Apple. They have fought and won most battles in the consumer electronics industry. However one of the most surprising facts about their progress stems from the fact that Apple Maps has at this stage acquire more business listings than Google. How is that possible? Google was supposed to be the alpha and omega of this industry. They practically understood everything that went on and set up the infrastructure that was going to be used in the mapping process! How then could they be upstaged by Apple? The answer is to be found in the temerity and tenaciousness of the Apple brand. Nothing is left to chance when it comes to conquering consumers. Here are a few highlights of this struggle:
- A bespoke Operating system: The mapping service for the iOS 6 was revealed at the World Wide Developer’s Conference which was held in San Francisco. Although the Apple Maps app is not yet out, there are already 20 million more business listings for it than Google. Both companies agree on the figures which suggest that they are pretty accurate. The mapping program will be used on the Apple iPad and iPhone. It is expected than more than 100 million businesses will be included in its listing.
- A comprehensive approach to providing information: Ideally the Apple Maps service should be able to connect consumers with their other clients. Scott Forstall is the Senior Vice President of the brand and says that they are taking a holistic approach to this particular product. They are hoping that surfers will be able to locate relevant businesses as well as points of interest. Already the process of gathering data has started and it appears that Apple is taking it very seriously indeed.
- What about Google and its response? The search engine has been able to create a database of 80 million local businesses. These have been included in its mapping software suite. In 2004 Google created the Google Maps brand by acquiring the ‘Where 2 Technologies’ project. Brian McClendon is a vice president at the company and says that they have more than 1 billion active users. Apple may soon catch up given the speed at which it is implementing its Apple Maps service.
Both companies are going to pay attention to mobile phone buyers because that appears to be an unexplored segment of the consumer electronics market. Google research indicates that the searches for shops and places of interest make up to 40% of queries on smartphones. It is for this reason that business listings will remain a key factor for the sector especially given the worry that other players may soon join the fray.
Making life easy for the Google and Apple consumer
Although both brands would like to engage in distinctions, the truth of the matter is that they tend to get their client base from the same constant supply of surfers. Therefore competitive advantage can only be achieved through distinction. For example Apple has decided to pre-install the Apple Maps software on its mobile devices. By doing this they have effectively replaced Google Maps which used to be the default choice. In any case it is still possible to access the Google Mapping tools through a web browser on the Apple iPad and iPhone. It is also possible to down the Google Earth app and get services in that way.
Meanwhile Apple has been very strategic in its efforts to get into the Google Maps territory. Although the Google Maps app has been on the iPhone since 2007, it has been gradually replaced. The critical point was from 2009 to 2011 when Apple went on an acquisition spree. The collection included C3 Technologies, Placebase and Poly9. Consequently the brand signed a deal with TomTom. This particular transaction was of interest given the fact that TomTom was largest maker of portable navigational devices in Europe at the time. The data that was used for operations was taken from Yelp and OpenStreetMap.
Things come full cycle for Apple
This fall it is expected that the iOS 6 will debut. Apple Maps will be conveniently slotted into the consumer electronics market at that point. Many car makers have already been brought on board. The list of specifications is impressive with special attention given to the needs of Android smartphone users. For example there is turn-by-turn navigation that is supported by satellite views and regular traffic updates. The voice commands mean that there is really no need for a guide.
Google is also not sitting on its laurels. They have announced an upgrade to their mapping services suit. For example they have included a flyover feature that is very similar to the proposals relating to the Apple Maps service. The winner is the consumer who is able to explore cities by zooming in between buildings. Apparently Google is going one step further by assuring clients that they could access maps even where there is no internet connection. Clearly the two brands are not going to let the other dominate this market.
- M. Milian,” Apple Maps Already Has More Business Listings Than Google”, 12th Jun 2012, Bloomberg
The author Recommends the Following Reading List:
1. A Comparative Review of Consumer Electronic Gadgets: the Nokia 808 PureView and the Apple iPhone 4S.
2.A Review of the In-Car Apple Siri Service.
3. Comparing the Apple iPad to Traditional Android Tablet Computers: Is there a need to change?
4. The Attractions and Limitations of the Apple Retina Display.
5. Is the MacBook Pro the Last Apple Laptop of its Kind?
6. How Siri is Making The iPhone More Valuable to Consumers.