Very recently I was having a chat with my colleague Sanjay. The questions was – Is Apple a good fit to be called a geospatial company. I tried to give my views, while trying to look in to the factors why I thought so.
Image Credits: Apple Maps
Apple is quite a buzz with when it comes to maps – a mapping service application developed by Apple Inc. for its iOS and OS X operating systems[i].
Its current operating systems have now replaced Apple Maps as the de facto mapping application replacing Google Maps. It was clear that it was looking at a patch-up when its not so great mapping application caused embarrassment during 2012[ii].
But does it mean Apple is a good candidate to be a Geospatial Content Company? Let us look at these factors:
Is it creating content?
Not apparently when we take the its competitors like Google and Microsoft. Maps content is clearly from partners – TomTom being one of the bigger one[iii]. The ways in which it maps the world is not also know again unlike others, who are using various techniques to rapidly map and update the world.
Is it investing on large teams?
Companies like Google have invested heavily in to mapping resources, they have very large teams powering up its mapping engine, Map Maker programs. While Apple seems to be doing so[iv], again the factor of scale does not seem to be too much.
Is its focusing for a global maps?
It popularity makes[v] doesn’t make it important for it to invest globally. It is quite popular in Australia, UK, US and China[vi], but the rest of the world its popularly is not there, nor its mapping data and ancillary services are that strong.
Who are providing Content to Apple?
It’s very evident from the Apple site revised during November 2014[vii] that a large number of companies contribute to its map data and satellite imagery. Here is the list:
TomTom and/or its suppliers and sources
IGN – INSTITUT NATIONAL DE
L'INFORMATION GEOGRAPHIQUE ET FORESTIERE
INCREMENT P CORP.,
MDA Information Systems, Inc..
National Land Survey of Finland
Business listings data
Property parcel data for USA
Land Information New Zealand, LINZ Data Service
Satellite imagery data
Microsoft – Partly
ESA 2010 and UCLouvain
Why is it for Mapping then?
Mapping as an app is quite popular in mobile world. It in no way, would like its iOS to get blows because of this weakness and let itself yield to Google Maps[viii]. It has tried to strengthen its platforms with acquisitions[ix].
Consumers in British depend on this for Traffic updates and contribute back more. Its newer platforms to encourage busienss to put their loctions on Maps Connect[x] and add indoor maps is a good way, it would like to build on ancillary data that would power search results on its products.
Usability of maps as a native application with in iOS and OSX will continue to drive its investments in mapping. Ancillary data from varioius contributors will continue, making it an aggregator rather than a geospatial content owner and content provider.