Tech giant Apple is still trying to get Maps right. The company snapped up yet another mapping technology firm to add to the list in hopes iPhone users will finally stop complaining about dead-end streets and longer-than-necessary routes.
Apple acquired Coherent Navigation, according to news reports. Apple could not immediately be reached for comment but confirmed the purchase publicly. Paul Lego, former CEO of Coherent Navigation, joined Apple in January so the deal was likely inked earlier this year.
“Coherent Navigation is developing a commercial high-precision navigation service that leverages the Iridium satellite network,” said a description on Lego’s LinkedIn page. “Commercial high-precision navigation is a multi-billion dollar market. Current applications include agriculture, surveying, construction, mining, and oil and gas exploration. Coherent also does both classified and unclassified work for the U.S. government.”
Apple’s Bumpy Road
Apple continues grabbing mapping companies as it struggles to get Apple Maps on par with Google Maps in the wake of an embarrassing debut and plenty of consumer backlash. Indeed, the list of mapping companies Apple has acquired is getting pretty long, including BroadMap, WifiSLAM, Hop Stop, Embark, Locationary.
It all started when Apple bought Placebase in 2009. The rumor mill decided Apple Maps would replace Google Maps on the iPhone. But when Apple Maps debuted as part of iOS 6 about three years later, it fell into the product launch disaster category. In fact, it was so embarrassing for the company that it led to an executive shakeup.
Apple tried to redeem its mapping fate in 2013 with the rollout of iOS 7. Apple bet on Embark, a mobile application designed to make it easy to get around cities using mass transit. Although Apple Maps has improved since its shaky debut, it still fails to compare to the accuracy of Google Maps.
Not Entirely Trustworthy
We caught up with Greg Sterling, Vice President of Strategy and Insights at the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on Apple’s latest mapping acquisition. He told us the deal is pretty straightforward, really.
“This acquisition is about improving location precision and with it probably a number of aspects of Apple Maps, which now extend to the Apple Watch. Apple Maps has improved greatly since its launch,” Sterling said. However, Apple Maps is still not entirely trustworthy, he added.
"Whether or not adding another navigation technology to the Apple Maps mix [helps] remains to be seen," Sterling said. "We are sure to see another major upgrade roll out soon. With Apple taking its mapping software to the wrist, one thing is certain: it’s more important than ever for the company to get this right. With the GPS navigation Coherent offers, this could be the acquisition that finally takes the egg off Apple’s face."