Apple’s new Maps app looks great, and finally introduces many of the features that would never have been added to the existing, Google-driven, Maps app, including Siri integration and a lock screen view.
By describing it as being “built from the ground up,” the impression given was that Apple is 100-percent responsible for the maps, but that’s not quite the case. A report in the Financial Times reveals that it’s TomTom who will be providing Apple with “maps and related information,” which we take it means features such as points-of-interest and traffic reports.
Switching from one map provider to another doesn’t sound all that important — but it is for Apple and especially for TomTom.
Mutually beneficial partnership
Declining sales of GPS navigation devices hit TomTom hard, with revenue falling by 31-percent last year. It’s unlikely that 2012 will be any better. TomTom started to sign partnership agreements with car manufacturers to provide in-car navigation software, helping ensure its survival.
But the Apple deal is even more important. A TomTom spokesperson points out that there are three major digital maps providers in the world — Nokia, Google and TomTom — and that two of those are already in use on their own preferred smartphone OS.
Apple was sharing Google Maps, and as the endless patent lawsuits prove, Apple doesn’t like to share toys with anyone.
Put this way, the partnership looks to be mutually beneficial. Apple will exclusively benefit from some of the best mapping software available, and the company’s considerable expertise in the matter. TomTom ensures it will remain competitive in the smartphone market, and not have to solely rely on its standalone apps, plus it has instant access to a vast pre-installed user base.
The announcement of the deal saw TomTom’s share price subsequently rise by 14-percent. Apple’s iOS 6 is set to be released in the Fall.