Interesting post from John Gruber on the recently revealed news that Apple and Google still had a year left on their maps contract..
So Apple’s options were:
Continue for one more year with iOS Maps as it was — no turn-by-turn directions, no vector-based map tiles — and thus go for another year at significant feature disadvantage to all other major phones on the market, and then face the same decision one year from now.
Work out a new deal with Google, granting Google more prominent branding and more (and more personally identifying — that’s what Latitude is all about) location data from iOS users in exchange for modern features like turn-by-turn and vector map tiles. More Google branding, less user privacy.
Cut the cord with Google now and go ahead with Apple’s own mapping services — which have been in development for years, with several prominent acquisitions of mapping technology companies — so that they can add turn-by-turn directions, greatly improve the aesthetics of the map graphics, use vector map tiles, add the visually impressive Flyover mode, and, most importantly, take control of their own destiny.
We’re supposed to believe Google was surprised that Apple chose #3? Ask yourself this: Were you surprised Apple chose option 3?
This option came with a now-well-known price: the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the underlying cartographic data. But all three of those options came with a heavy price.
Option 1 meant iOS Maps would spend an entire year falling further behind all of Apple’s competitors.
Option 2 would grant Google — now Apple’s archrival — more branding, more control, and more access to user data on Apple’s platform.