Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple’s Iterative Approach with Maps Contrasts with the Many Services Google Has Shut Down

Bradley Chambers, 9to5Mac:

Apple wants to own its future of mapping to be able to make changes quickly, protect user privacy, and create the best overall mapping experience for customers. One of the things I’ve often heard about Apple vs. Google is that Google is willing to do the dirty work of projects like book scanning where Apple isn’t. That might be true, but with Apple Maps, they’ve shown a persistence to stay focused on a product that clearly wasn’t the best in its field.

Google’s product strategy has often been to throw a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks and kill the rest (see Google Buzz, Wave, Google+, etc.). If Google had launched a mapping product in 2012 with the same problems as Apple, they would have canned the project within a year. Apple had a vision of what they wanted mapping on their platform to be, and they weren’t going to be stopped until that vision was a reality. When was the last time Google showed that focus with a product?

I don’t necessarily disagree with Chambers, but I think this is more reflective of the value of owning maps data, and how tech firms have changed in the past decade. The Google of 2005 could get away with more experimental projects than the Google of 2012 or 2019, and it grew Maps into an industry leader over that time. Apple needed something competitive because mapping data is inherently valuable for the myriad services it enables, and it didn’t matter how long it took to build it.

Focus remains an issue for Google, however: in addition to Google Maps, their roster of location-based products include Google Earth, Waze, and Google Travel, and they just recently shut down Google Trips.