Apple and Google’s Maps rift on iOS 6 was apparently caused by an inability by the two companies to see eye-to-eye on one key feature: turn-by-turn navigation. That’s according to new information AllThingsD has uncovered from “multiple sources familiar with Apple’s thinking.” Other factors contributed to the split, but navigation was the straw that broke the camel’s back, according to the report.
AllThingsD’s sources claim that Apple wanted turn-by-turn, and that Google was reluctant to give up a key competitive advantage for Android. Google also wanted more control over Maps on iOS and its attendant features, including clear Google branding within the native iOS maps app, and the addition of friend-finding geolocation service Google Latitude. Apple didn’t want Google having so much access to users of its platforms, the report says, hence the eventually decision to part ways.
Apple decided to go it alone, believing its progress via the purchase of Placebase, Poly9 and C3 Technologies would be enough to build its own product on. But according to consumer and media response following iOS 6’s introduction, it looks like the company may have jumped the gun.
This definitely seems a likely explanation for why Apple would rid its platform of Google Maps, and why that reportedly happened more than year earlier than the contract between the two companies for its use was set to expire. Apple promoted its own Maps app’s new turn-by-turn function heavily, and that was one of the key advantages often cited by Android owners as a tangible benefit their own mobile OS provided when compared to the competition.
Apple has also famously guarded its relationship with iOS users in the past, from its contentious negotiations with magazine publishers over in-app subscriptions, to its reported ongoing negotiations with cable providers over bringing live broadcast TV content to the Apple TV. A rift along those lines with a company like Google, which can afford to walk away from the table rather than accept Apple’s terms, would produce exactly this kind of result.
We’ve contacted Apple and Google for comment, and will update if we hear back.
Update: Google PR responded with the following response:
We’re staying with our original statement that we believe Google Maps are the most comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps in the world. Our goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it, regardless of device, browser, or operating system.