A Great iOS Google Maps Product Vindicates Apple's Strategy

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 13 2012 8:21 AM

A Great iOS Google Maps Product Vindicates Apple's Strategy

158096239
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 10: People walk through the Apple retail store in Grand Central Terminal on December 10, 2012 in New York City.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Google's much-anticipated iOS Maps application is out today and the early accounts are that it's awesome, much better than either Apple's new Maps program or its Google-powered predecessor. I haven't had time to play around with it properly, but I hope people will understand that if it's as good as it sounds, it's a vindication of Apple's business strategy in launching its own Maps product.

Recall that the problem with the old Maps wasn't that it wasn't as good as the new Maps. The problem is that it was distinctly inferior to Google Maps for Android. And that wasn't a coincidence. Google is happy to make apps and provide online services for iOS users, but they'd rather have everyone use Android for their mobile purposes. So a situation in which Google provided the data for the best iOS mapping app while ensuring that the best iOS mapping app was distinctly inferior to the best Android mapping app was ideal for them. But for Apple that dynamic is bad news. Its deeper app ecosystem is one of the main selling points of iOS, but who really cares about a "deep" ecosystem if your shallow ecosystem of core services like mapping sucks? So by ditching Google and launching their own competing product they at least create a situation where it's possible that great maps software might come to iOS.

Advertisement

One way to do that would be for Apple to make the best map program in the world. So far, they haven't done that. But while Google wants to promote Android, Google also doesn't want to lose the vast customer base that is iPhone and iPad map users. So they've responded by writing a Google Maps program that's much better than the old Google Maps—one that feature vector graphics and spoken directions and Google's superior mapping data.

So pride aside, from Apple's viewpoint this is a win. Apple's not in the maps business, they're in the device and platform business. Their problem as of a year ago is that their platform didn't have a great maps program. Now it does. Mission accomplished.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Behold

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 3:53 PM Smash and Grab Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 20 2014 3:40 PM Keeping It in the Family Why are so many of the world’s oldest companies in Japan?
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 5:03 PM Marcel the Shell Is Back and as Endearing as Ever
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 10:23 AM Where I Was Wrong About the Royals I underestimated the value of building a team that’s just barely better than mediocre.