Apple Quietly Acquires Mapping Service Placebase

According to various reports, Apple has made one more quiet acquisitions. Electronista reports that Apple has bought Placebase, a small mapping service, on July 9. Placebase’s entry in Techcrunch’s Crunchbase describes it as an “online mapping service which specialized in offering customizations and features which integrate private and public data sets in many diverse ways.”

The move went unnoticed until someone checked the LinkedIn profile of Placebase CEO Jaron Waldman who now lists his title as “GEO Team At Apple.”

The move is raising eyebrows in part because of the established relationship between Apple and Google on the mapping front. Google, you’ll recall, was an early partner on the iPhone with an impressive Google Maps application, but was forced to launch its Latitude live location updating application not as a dedicated iPhone application but as a Web-based application reachable on the iPhone only through the Web browser, BusinessWeek reports.

It was also reported, the price and the deal were apparently too small to require any announcement of the deal when it was made in July.

The acquisition is seen as a sign that Apple will move away from using Google Inc.'s Maps program for its iPhone and iPhoto software, reports.

In the meantime, there is a strong possibility that Apple didn't actually buy Placebase, just hired Waldman 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.

There is much to be done in the mapping space and Google has brought tremendous value to the iPhone with its cool mapping application. Apple is rarely a stupid company, so I have to guess it will think long before dumping Google Maps for something created in-house.

While Apple may someday offer a mapping platform of its own, the company would be wise to remain tied to Google until it has something truly incredible to offer.

Google Maps will be much easier to add value to than for Apple to beat, PC World reports.

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