Google reportedly didn't expect Apple to ditch their maps so soon, still months away from releasing new app

Apple has a year left on their most recent Google Maps agreement, apparently, and didn't expect Apple to remove them from iOS 6 and launch a new app anywhere near this soon. Meaning, Google was caught flat-footed and won't be ready to ship a standalone Google Maps app for the App Store for several more months. This according to a quartet of stories published today.

Kevin Krolicki of Reuters scored a quote from Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt:

"We think it would have been better if they had kept [our maps]. But what do I know?" Schmidt told a small group of reporters in Tokyo. "What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."

Schmidt also said Android was kicking the iPhone's butt, yet doesn't enjoy the same kind of media attention obsessively lavished on Apple. So there.

Bloomberg also got a quote from Schmidt at the same Tokyo Nexus event:

“We haven’t done anything yet with Google Maps,” Schmidt told reporters in Tokyo today. Apple would “have to approve it. It’s their choice,” Schmidt said, declining to say if the Mountain View, California-based company submitted an application to Apple for sale through its App Store.

Chris Ziegler of The Verge, meanwhile, says Google was caught off-guard by Apple's timing:

Apple's decision to ship its own mapping system in the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 was made over a year before the company's agreement to use Google Maps expired, according to two independent sources familiar with the matter. The decision, made sometime before Apple's WWDC event in June, sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app — an app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months.

And Nick Wingfield and Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times says making the standalone Google Maps app will be complicated, firstly because they already have a Google Earth app and will need to figure out if they're going to consolidate it into maps, but also...

Google’s contract with Apple to keep the maps app on the iPhone had more time remaining, and Google did not know that Apple had changed its mind until Apple said publicly in June that it would replace the app with its new maps app, according to two people briefed on the decision.

Though, frankly, if Google only figured out Apple was rolling their own mapping solution when it was announced at WWDC, they're clearly reading the wrong blogs... The moment Apple bought its first mapping company, PlaceBase back in July of 2009 alarm bells should have been going off for Google -- giant, neon alarm bells -- and they should have immediately begun a skunkworks project to have a standalone iOS app ready and waiting for just such a turn of events. Seriously, it's like watching someone wind up a punch with cartoon-like exaggeration and not even preparing to counterpunch until knuckle starts denting jaw.

In any case, iOS 6 users will have to keep offering corrections to Apple's database, and those desperate to get Google Maps back onto their iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads will likely be stuck using maps.google.com for the next few months still, and that's unfortunate.

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google reportedly didn't expect Apple to ditch their maps so soon, still months away from releasing new app

47 Comments

I agree! Google just wants to leave iOS users hanging for awhile, and make Apple look bad at the same time.

Are you really that daft or what? Why would Google potentially want to lose out on millions of Maps users, all the while allowing a new maps competitor?

It's more likely that Apple was getting sick of Google and Android really monopolizing a lot of the mobile phone app and ecosystem, and decided they would strike fast and quick.

So what they did was design their own maps app, buy a bunch of mapping companies and leave Google out in the cold.

Google got millions of dollars licensing the maps API to Apple. It also made millions of dollars licensing the Google Maps API to iOS developers that also used maps or mapping services. Now, they are left out it and Apple will reap all the revenue.

So keep that in mind. All those restaurant apps, traffic apps, train and ferry apps, used Google Maps API, and now google cannot license it to them.

When did Google ban the use of their API on iOS? (And it still makes millions, their still being paid for another year.)

They didn't... But the fact remains, there is a new in-house maps app, that most companies will try and license the API from Apple.

Are there any particular reasons why it would benefit a developer to license through Apple, rather than Google? If Google's maps are superior, I would think they'd continue putting google map data in their apps.

So they need the iOS data (data = $) but are leaving iOS users hanging for bad Apple PR (bad PR != direct money).

I doubt it.

I think the bad pr is priceless, and worth it to Google to wait a few weeks, nothing daft about it. As far as I know those other sites you mention are still using the Google API.

Of course they do. People are complaining about how bad Apple Maps are. Let it stay like that for a few more months and guaranteed when Google Maps is released for iOS, it will be headlines.

If Google had submitted an app by launch it wouldn't be as big.

Good for Google.

Yes, I use iOS. I have an iPhone 4S (Second Line) and an iPad 64GB (Verizon LTE Model). So don't be calling me a fandroid. :p

No, this is a really bad idea. You will notice that the TechCrunch article offers no real reasoning on why this would be great other than a bit of fantasy about what people will "feel" about Apple and Google based on the authors surmises/guesses. This is the kind of advice that idiots who don't actually run anything give.

Google maps is a horrible experience and has an awful UI on the web, I would bet that their iOS app when it arrives will be similarly handicapped. It will have adverts and a poorly designed UI just like all of their stuff and if they don't get it out there soon, it will not stack up well against the Apple product.

Remember, Apple has already beaten them on the one aspect of Maps that they focussed on for the initial release ... turn by turn. Apple's overall maps product is crap now, but it will be refined quite quickly and has a better base than googles efforts to build on.

I am torn. The first article I read (on a different site) I thought I read a headline that said one year and "several months" in the article. I read it wrong, but it got me to thinking. This article says the DECISION was made with over a year left.

There is a possibility that, since only Apple knows its iOS roadmap, that this all could be a timing issue. Perhaps their agreement with Google ends 6/30 or 7/31, or even 8/31 of 2013. That all is technically over a year from "the Desicion"

Apple isn't going to introduce a brand new Apple branded Maps app in a point release. It is, and should be treated as, a tent pole. Maybe had they maintained a summer release, Apple Maps would not have been introduced until iOS 7, and Google would have been ready to go with a stand alone app (I still think they are further along than they are letting on. I find the timing coincidental. I predict they will have a Google Maps app by January, but can play this "Apple Maps sucks" card through the holiday season.

I know that Apple has, through its own marketing and keynotes, and, more importantly, past performance, created a "zero tolerance" for these types of issues. But the fact is, Schmidt is right, Apple gets more press coverage/obsession than Android. In other words, anything not 100% from Apple is a controversy-gate. They are a victim of their own success.

I dont know about him, but I used maps daily for work. For the two years I've had my Iphone 4 I used maps daily. I haven't used it more than a few days. I type in full addresses, and cant find it. Or if I am somewhere I have never been to before and I pull maps up to see whats around. NOTHING IS LISTED. I pull up maps.google. And guess what, stores and food places show up instantly.

It's junk. I now use my actual GPS to go where I need to.

Have you tried searching for things? (UK) About 4 of the big supermarkets in my town just don't exist anymore.

I never used google as my main navigation app due to the lack of voice directed turn by turn so oh well. The new maps in ios 6 work great for me, I'm sure those who love to hate apple are in heaven right now. But this too shall pass.

I agree with you, hated the Google maps because it was of no use to me, but love the apple turn by turn maps with siri! I haven't had any problems with it.

That's what I'm saying, everybody is in uproar and screaming the want google maps back, but our app sucked it was useless for navigating with no turn by turn, just having that makes ios maps worth it to me. Just my 2 cents.

Alas, Android users have been getting the turn by turn voice direction from Google Maps for years now. :) Hm, I wonder why... Anyway, despite the lack of turn by turn; Google Maps is still preferred because most people who search for "coffee" want to see all of the coffee shops nearby, not just Starbucks. That goes for all other businesses/small businesses. Of course, that is only one of many weaknesses of Apple maps.

Presumably apple:
- knows both the length and terms of its map contract with google;
- knows it's iOS roadmap;
- benchmarks both the free and paid features available through competitors and potential suppliers;
- practices "futuring", or as Steve said, "skating to where the puck will be" (and these days apple is, arguably, the puck;
- has unlimited resources to create, expand and defend a product or crush a competitor;

So why launch an immature product (having, yes, one nice unique feature) which is inept at its basic function (clear maps) and missing many if the basic function and interface features found in products of this type (I'm in Europe, and, even set to english, Siri can't even reasonably pronounce street names or avoid a bizarre sentence structure ).

If they really needed to dump google like a hot potato(e), they have more than enough money to have either bought tomtom or mapquest, or licensed them for the next year as a transitional solution until a home-grown map feature was ready for prime time.

If the facts surrounding the situation are reflective of the true nature of things, then the whole situation is endemic of a lack of clarity of purpose, and ignorance of or indifference to customer-oriented decision-making.

Maybe this is why the maps feature, to me, feels less like "surprise and delight" and more like "shock and disappointment"... I feel embarrassed that since WWDC I have been talking-up this product and software release, with intent to replace my 4s, as well as convincing several family members and friends, that the 5w/6 was going to be the Bee's Knees, and now all this mediocrity.

It's all PR. But Apple left an opening. Google would be nuts not to take a few stabs here.

Meanwhile, there's an app for that if Apple Maps doesn't thrill you.

That's not how you do business. Why should they have started a maps app in 2009 based on a purchase? It makes no sense to do so when they had 4 years left on a contract. A purchase does not show intent to break a contract.

I'd bet next year, within the last year of the contract, they would have started preparing a maps app so once done they would have been ready to launch.

I will stay on 5.1.1 until Maps get improved or Google gets into it via jailbreak or app store.

This new information makes the decision to move to Apple's in-house maps app, even more infuriating to me. If there was still a year left on the licensing agreement, and Apple wanted to crowd-source their data collection, then they should have released an optional public beta through the app store, so the majority of users didn't have their maps experience nerfed.

To me, this is a perfect example of Apple cutting off its nose to spite the face. Great, they were able to cut out Google, but at what cost? Providing a subpar mapping program to their customers?

What further frustrates me, is that Apple customers are defending them. What I expect from Apple, is for them to release products that "just work" out of the box. They have gotten to their current position in the market, by providing a first-class experience for their customers. In their rush to release their own (let's use Rene's term here) "halfbaked" solution, they provided a less than stellar experience for many users, and left transit users out in the cold. Until their solution was on par, or better than their existing licensed solution, it never should have been forced on the public.

"..., sent Google scrambling to develop an iOS Google Maps app — an app which both sources say is still incomplete and currently not scheduled to ship for several months."

This quote from The Verge doesn't make any sense. Does anyone really think it would take Google "several months" to complete a mapping application for iOS? First, they already created one. Second, they have some of the best software engineers in the world. It's just another iOS app, like all the other mapping/navigation apps in the App Store.

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I think this is a necessary move for Apple that will benefit all iOS users. I've tested it against my car's nav and the Navigon app installed on my iPhone. The only problem has been going pass the destination and making a U-Turn to come back. I like it a lot. It's beautiful and smooth and I like to use it. However, in its current state, it's a good beta and definately not a finished product. Over time, it will present a formidable challenge to Google Maps. Stay tuned.

Wouldn't it be just a kick if Google released their app with free turn-by-turn directions. Then the map wars would be on.

Stop complaining i bet none of you are using the app to report problems to get them fixed, your just running to blogs to bitch and complain. Be part of the solution or go get an Android phone. Who in their right mind thought the new maps would be better than Google maps from day one anyway?

What an absolutely silly point of view. Imagine if you bought a new car and a year after the purchase the manufacturer decided to swap out the navigation system you paid for with one that had less features and an enormous amount of bugs. Then imagine that you found out the only reason they did so was just to spite a competitor. Would you be happy about that? Just imagine if I were to tell you to stop being angry about it or go buy another car. That would be pretty stupid wouldn't it? Well that is how you sound. We as the customers have the RIGHT to complain and be angry when Apple does idiotic things like this. If you can't handle that then maybe the internet, or life itself, isn't for you.

Personally, I rarely used Google Maps on my iPhone because it had no turn by turn voice.. I have been using Apple Maps all over my city with no issues!

I'll never need Google Maps again!

Maybe for people in the US and the countries that are among the first to have iPhone 5 released, Apple Maps are good enough. But for the rest of the world, it's no where near usable. Can't search for places, entire sections of cities missing... It's those people who are fcked up over Apple's decision to push a half baked mapping solution.

We ask why didn't Apple allow an alternate mapping solution, at least until it finishes its product. You may point to many paid maps as an alternative, but in many places, Google Maps is pretty much the best one out there, with Nokia Maps being on par sometimes

I really like the new maps and the turn by turn directions. As far as the new maps not showing whats near me....I could really care less. I can use Poynt or just tell Siri what I'm looking for and she will guide me in the right direction.