Apple will need to enter the search and map businesses, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. Barrons reported that Mr. Munster thinks there is a 70% chance the company will do just that within the next five years.
“We believe the company needs to develop its own search technology to protect the data generated on the iPhone,” Mr. Munster wrote in a research note to clients. “We believe Apple could utilize data unavailable from Google, data generated by the company’s App Store, to create a mobile centric search engine.”
To get started in this industry, Mr. Munster noted that search startup Cuil could provide the basis for such am endeavor. Cuil currently boasts that it has indexed some 127 billion Web pages, a number that is a small subset of the total number of Web pages in existence.
Mr. Munster also sees owning (and providing) their own map data as being, “critical for companies offering mobile platforms.” To that end, he suggests that Apple add to its PlaceBase acquisition of 2009 by purchasing Europa Technologies.
Apple may well be down that path already, however, starting with the above-mentioned PlaceBase purchase. In November, the company advertised for software engineers with mapping expertise.
In the job posting, the company said, “We want to take Maps to the next level, rethink how users use Maps and change the way people find things. We want to do this in a seamless, highly interactive and enjoyable way. We’ve only just started.”
Mr. Munster added that, “The bottom line is that protecting the data generated on the iPhone OS platform must become an increasing priority for Apple and we believe the company has the resources to develop its own products in both maps and search in the next five years.”
Shares in Apple, Inc. closed at US$235.00 per share, down $0.845 (-0.36%), on moderately light volume of 15.4 million shares trading hands.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.