Apple have confirmed their acquisition of location-and-data startup Locationary in what appears to be a bid to boost their ailing maps service.
This is the fourth company Apple has bought to strengthen their expertise in this area, with previous acquistions including C3 Technologies, who specialised in 3D mapping; Poly9, who ran a 3D browser-based geolocation tool; and PlaceBase, who once produced a maps API called Pushpin specialising geo-tagging.
These purchase, however, date back to 2009; before Apple had launched its own app in an attempt to remove the limpet of Google Maps from iOS homescreens. Unfortunately, the resultant product was so poorly produced that Tim Cook was forced to issue an apology.
Google have since strengthened its lead over Apple with the purchase of crowd-sourcing Israeli map app Waze – indeed, Google’s lead is such that an anti-trust investigation was launched by the FTC to find out if the company is approaching a monopoly in the market.
Like Waze, Locationary is also into crowd-sourcing data. The Canadian-based startup has created a platform capable of merging information from companies’ business profiles to create a cohesive and up-to-date listings service.
It also offers incentives to users to update this info, paying them to connect locations to various services – Yelp or Foursquare say – so that the info is synched across multiple platforms. Here, redundancy – the multiple sources – means trusting the data, something users certainly couldn’t with the original Apple maps app.
Apple’s only comment on the new has been the singularly opaque statement that it likes to offer on such occasions: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."