What Does Placebase Acquisition Mean for Apple-Google Partnership?


Apple's acquisition of mapping company Placebase has led to speculation over why the company made the buy when it already features Google Maps on its iPhone and iPod touch. PC World columnist David Coursey, calling the news "unsettling," cautions Apple to "think very seriously about the consequences" of the deal.

He speculates: "If a new Apple mapping product is to replace Google Maps, it needs to be done by offering customers a choice of mapping providers. If Apple is good enough, people will switch and eventually the rest can be moved over by force, if necessary."

However, he adds, "there are reasons why this may be a much ado about very little. Apple can find plenty of location-based applications or features to add to iPhone and Mac OS that could run on top of Google Maps … There doesn't have to be a conflict here, but we're sure Apple and Google aren't as chummy as they once were."

Mr. Coursey concludes with a last bit of intrigue: "There is a strong possibility that Apple didn't actually buy Placebase, just hired [founder Jaron] Waldman (and others?) when the company failed. That's the rumor inside the mapping business and makes as much sense as anything else. Regardless, Waldman's arrival at Apple demonstrates that the company is seriously interested in mapping."