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.