Rumors have been spreading for a while now that Apple would use iOS 6 to replace the Google mapping data in the Maps app with Apple's own solution. About a month ago iMore told you why -- to start removing Google's hooks in iOS and the information and revenue they generate from iOS users. Now the Wall Street Journal adds more fuel to that fire.
Apple has been hatching the plan to evict Google Maps from the iPhone for years, according to current and former Apple employees. The plan accelerated as smartphones powered by Google's Android software overtook the iPhone in shipments.
In the short term, Google will lose some ad revenue and miss out on data about what local businesses people are searching for—which it uses to pitch retailers on buying certain ads. Longer term, it is likely to hurt Google's ability to generate map-related revenue, according to former Google employees.
The WSJ pretty much recapitulates a lot of what we said back in May, but with a lot of background, including Apple's desire for StreetView, which took a while to get Google to agree to, and turn-by-turn, which Google never agreed to. Likewise, they cover Google's desire for more branding and Latitude integration, which Apple refused.
Most interesting is the information on Apple's Geo Team, which worked on features to compete with Google, and built Apple their own geocoder
Apple quietly launched its geocoder last fall inside its latest iPhone software. It has remained all but unnoticed outside a small circle of software pros.
Since Apple released its own geocoder, every time iPhone users open its map app, it is Apple's technology that translates their position, not Google's. Software developers can also use a version of the Apple technology, CLGeocoder, to build apps that let users, for instance, tell their friends what neighborhood they are in or search for nearby eateries.
Beyond geocoders and fancy rumored effects like 3D, Apple will have to offer mapping every bit as good as Google did, or they risk significant pushback. Likewise, Google may now choose to release their own Google Maps app in the App Store, complete with all the features they wouldn't give Apple, like turn-by-turn, and Apple wouldn't take, like Latitude, as well with their more recent technical innovations, like vector-based maps.
May the best maps win.