Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has changed many markets with innovative products and it has even created completely new markets with its products. The firm changed how people listen to music with its iPod, iPhones brought touchscreens that killed keyboard on phones, the iPad created a market for tablets, Apple Watch is disrupting a 200-year old industry, and Project Titan might change the face of transportation. However, the firm has not been able to get a hang of something as “simple” as maps.
Travel back in time to 2012 when Apple released its Apple Maps app and you’ll observe that the firm has not made decent headway in maps. Of course, the current map app is better than what was launched in 2012; yet, the fact is that Apple still trails Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), (NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the mapping space. CNN reports that Apple has bought 11 map tech firms since 2009; yet, it has not been able to unveil a map app that is on par with Google Maps.
Apple can’t buy its way into maps
Data from PrivCo shows that Apple has bought 11 map tech firms since 2009, but most of the deals happened in the last two years. Earlier this month it bought MapSense for somewhere between $25M and $30M – the firm doesn’t usually reveal all the terms of its deals. The most notable of all the map tech firms that Apple bought is HotSpot, which set it back some $1.1B as reported by PrivCo.
Despite all the expenses, the firm has not been able to deliver a map that is on par (not to mention better than) with Google Maps. To start with, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Maps provide turn-by-turn transit directions, which Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is just now starting to debut in iOS 9. Google Maps are also available in offline mode but the iPhone maker doesn’t yet provide offline access on its map.
Google Maps is very simple to use and it supports voice commands. It doesn’t take much benchmarking to know that Google Maps beats Apple Maps hands down on practically all fronts. PrivCo analyst Chris Pisarsk notes that Apple “has been playing catchup ever since… This has resulted in a more urgent and aggressive M&A strategy.”
Apple might have a different map in mind
The firm’s seemingly weakness in the map space might indicate that the firm has a different plan for maps that goes beyond helping you to find the less-crowded exit in a train station. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is secretly working on its self-driving car “Project Titan” and maps are key to the success of self-driving cars. The firm has hinted at a 2019 ship out date for its cars and it would nice to see how the firm has integrated maps into its self-driving cars.