4th October 2012
Link reblogged from ShortFormBlog with 35 notes
Apple’s maps are bad. Even Tim Cook knows this and apologized for them. Google’s maps are good, thanks to years of work, massive computing resources, and thousands of people handcorrecting map data.
But there are more than two horses in the race to create an index of the physical world. There’s a third company that’s invested billions of dollars, employs thousands of mapmakers, and even drives around its own version of Google’s mythic “Street View” cars.
That company is Nokia, the still-giant but oft-maligned Finnish mobile phone maker, which acquired the geographic information systems company Navteq back in 2007 for $8 billion. That’s only a bit less than the Nokia’s current market value of a bit less than $10 billion, which is down 93 percent since 2007. This might be bad news for the company’s shareholders, but if a certain tech giant with a massive interest in mobile content (Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo) were looking to catch up or stay even with Google, the company’s Location & Commerce unit might look like a nice acquisition they could get on the cheap (especially given that the segment lost 1.5 billion euros last year). Microsoft and Yahoo are already thick as thieves with Nokia’s mapping crew, but Apple is the company that needs the most help.
Apple has bad maps. Nokia has maps that are better than Google’s, according to Madrigal, though nobody thinks about it. Apple has enough money that an $8 billion buy wouldn’t even make them blink. So, should they?
Probably makes more sense to stick with TomTom and “grow the maps”. But one thing they should think about that distinguishes Google Maps from all of the rest, including TomTom and Navteq — Google allows you to look up your own location (or locations of places you go) on the internet and to submit corrections. In my opinion, this is a BIG difference.
If I am a business owner and Google Maps puts my marker in the middle of the building instead of at the main entrance, I can correct it online. I don’t know how they vet this information - maybe they have one of their cars drive by to verify it, maybe if the change is small enough, they just trust you (especially if you log in first).
This is especially important if the turn-by-turn directions take the customers to the other side of the building (near my competitors), or if it is difficult to get from the place where the turn-by-turn directions leave me and the actual location.
I cannot do this for any of the other mapping solutions. And saying that you can report this “in the app” isn’t really an answer. If Apple can get TomTom to expose their maps and an update service online, that would probably help them. They already expose their traffic maps at https://www.tomtom.com/livetraffic/, but there is no way that I can see to annotate/update it.