Mobile Mapping Wars Reach a New Phase

There’s been lots of talk about Apple’s mapping swicheroo, and how its new app is so far is a big #fail. The emphasis there is on so far, as the company has responded by emphasizing the cloud based nature of the product that will cause it to improve over time.

That might be the case but so far it’s feature regression. The downside is possibly hurt sales, which is tough for a company like Apple whose margins primarly derive from selling hardware. Will the backlash hurt iPhone5 sales (the answer so far appears to be no)?

Peter Krasilovsky has a great post this morning on some of the broader implications and players in the local mapping space. To add to the discussion my monthly Street Fight column publishes today with a look at what this means for Apple and, importantly, Google.

Here’s an excerpt and you can click through to read the whole thing.

iOS6: Can Google Beat Apple in its Own Backyard?

The past couple weeks have seen their fair share of iPhone5 coverage, including here on Street Fight. This has ranged from lots of excitement, to a collective “eh” from generalist tech media expecting revolutionary hardware with every update cycle.

But those who’ve actually picked up the device quickly see and feel a thinner body, lighter weight, faster processor, larger screen and better battery. Usually working against each other, these factors in combination represent industrial design at its best.

But more than the gadgetry, the real impact will come from iOS6 — announced in June and launched last week. Among other things, it includes deeper Facebook integration for app developers to build in Open Graph actions and authentication.

Its biggest implications lie in Apple’s new Maps app however (Passbook will also be big. but that’s a whole different column). This replaces Google’s longstanding default positioning in that role, and includes turn-by-turn navigation and flyover imagery.

Though this will carry Apple’s characteristic polish (no pun intended), mapping is a game ultimately won on function rather than form. In other words, will it find what I’m looking for, regardless of pretty flyover images of the Golden Gate Bridge?

This requires lots of listings data and search algorithms; in other words, things that are non-core to Apple (bad pun intended). Relative to Google’s tenure in this area, Apple is only starting to stitch together local vertical content partners like Yelp and TomTom.

Read the rest.

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