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Google vs. Apple map wars: Who loses?

Apple recently announced features that will be in the new version of its mobile platform operating system – iOS 6  – which is due to come out this fall. Of course, in the spirit of its long-standing rivalry with Google, many of the features (such as integrated Facebook) will not be doing Google any favors.

One feature, Maps, is the result of Apple diving head-first into a whole new arena seemingly to spite Google. It uses a different vector-based engine that is supposed to seamlessly present clear information no matter the zoom level, has enhanced 3-D views and the aerial Flyover feature.

And, to boot, it’s supposed to work with Siri, which would provide turn-by-turn directions and other services.

This level of integration, along with the fact that Apple has banished Google Maps from iPhones, really throws down the gauntlet to Google Maps, which for years has been the go-to mapping source for government agencies visualizing their data.

Google was not one to be caught out so easily, though. During the week of June 4, it arranged a hastily put-together event, in advance of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, about the direction of Google Maps. Apple’s move has definitely got Google jumping.

What impact the map wars will have on agencies using maps to build traffic, weather or emergency services apps remains to be seen, but there appears to be one sure victim here, and that is the dedicated Global Positioning System device.

In the era where your smart phone can do more and more, dedicated appliances are no longer necessary. There will still be a segment of the population that does not have a smart phone, but as we all can guess, that will be an increasingly small niche. Also, there is the question of what car makers will do with GPS devices that are built in to their higher-end models.

In any case, I think TomTom, the maker of dedicated GPS devices for everything from cars to wristwatches, might need to find a new job. Maybe it can use itself to do that.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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