Is Apple taking on Google in the mapping arena?

Has Apple purchased a mapping company to compete with Google? If ComputerWorld's Seth Weintraub is to be believed the answer is a resounding "yes".

Weintraub first discovered evidence in a July tweet by Fred Falonde, the founder of openspaces.org, that Apple purchased PlaceBase, a business that produces a mapping API called Pushpin and offers a mapping service very similar to Google's.

After letting the story lie dormant for the last few months, Weintraub did some investigating of PlaceBase's founder and CEO, Jaron Waldman. According to Weintraub, Waldman's LinkedIn page lists his stint at PlaceBase as past experience, with his current occupation being a member of Apple's GEO team. What that actually means remains to be discovered, and Waldman's LinkedIn page is no longer viewable publicly.

To top off this mounting pile of evidence, both placebase.com and pushpin.com have been taken offline.

Could this explain why Apple forced Google's mobile Latitude application for the iPhone to be a web-based application and not a native iPhone application? At the time, Google explained that, "Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles." This raised questions in the tech community over Apple's rationale, given it has already approved many iterations of to-do list applications and streaming music apps.

If Apple's plan is to compete in the mapping arena with Google, that could certainly explain Apple's reception to Latitude from Google. Is this a conspiracy theory, or some good investigative journalism by Weintraub? Let's hope Apple releases an answer in the near future.

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17 Comments

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Hm... And it all starts to make more sense... Apple was pretty vocal about their desire to keep products off of the iPhone that competes with their own products...

Interesting read. I have been reading about how Apple feels Google has too much power on the iPhone and Apple has learned from it past dealings with Microsoft not to rely on a third party who will stab you in the back in the end like Microsoft did to Apple.

Good for Apple. As others have said, more competition is a good thing.

pc_tool said,
Interesting read. I have been reading about how Apple feels Google has too much power on the iPhone and Apple has learned from it past dealings with Microsoft not to rely on a third party who will stab you in the back in the end like Microsoft did to Apple.

Good for Apple. As others have said, more competition is a good thing.

When are the going to learn from past dealings that their closed, proprietary locked down methods lead to their failure? Microsoft was in the right place at the right time, in reality anyone who built an 'open' OS that could run on cheap hardware was going to be the winner. Microsoft didn't win because of anything they stole from Xerox, they won because people didn't want to pay for Apple's and by default were going to use whatever came on their cheaper IBM or much cheaper IBM clone.

I fail to see how "Google has too much power on the iPhone" when it's at Apple's descresion (albiet flawed) to allow or disallow an application. If they feel that way, it's only because they've allowed it to get that way.

Antaris said,
I fail to see how "Google has too much power on the iPhone" when it's at Apple's descresion (albiet flawed) to allow or disallow an application. If they feel that way, it's only because they've allowed it to get that way.

Which is exactly why is sounds like they are moving against Google in the mapping space. It makes sense. I am not sure what point you are making.

geoken said,

When are the going to learn from past dealings that their closed, proprietary locked down methods lead to their failure? Microsoft was in the right place at the right time, in reality anyone who built an 'open' OS that could run on cheap hardware was going to be the winner. Microsoft didn't win because of anything they stole from Xerox, they won because people didn't want to pay for Apple's and by default were going to use whatever came on their cheaper IBM or much cheaper IBM clone.

Apple sure seems to be doing quite well with their products. Using Microsoft and 'open" is the same sentence is laughable.

pc_tool said,


Apple sure seems to be doing quite well with their products. Using Microsoft and 'open" is the same sentence is laughable.

Only for people who don't know history at least.

They have to move against Google. I was wondering why it was taking Apple so long to figure that out. Apple has been busy jabbing Microsoft when the threat was really Google. Even Microsoft clued in. The mapping application makes sense with that massive server farm they are currently building. The future is online, Google knows it, Microsoft knows it, maybe Apple has figured it out now!

Tell me about it. Apple isn't taking on Google in making a mapping service. It's stupid to even think so, why would they, what potential benefit does it even have for them. I can see them doing this as a failsafe if their relationship with Google goes sour, but they work quite nicely together so I don't see them changing that anytime soon.

Now back to nap time