Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Story behind Google Maps for iOS

Of course after iOS 6 was released everyone heard about the failure that is Apple Maps. But where had Google Maps for iOS gone? The reason Apple Maps was created in the first place was because Apple felt Google was holding back on features for their iOS counterpart of their Maps application which by that time was miles ahead on Android. Apple in particular was missing voice-navigation and so the only way it could implement this feature for consumers was to make its own app. What Apple failed to understand however is that it is a huge project to develop a Maps application that almost begins to rival Google's offering, and while with that in mind Apple put in a great effort, it predictably wasn't enough. So, the millions of consumers who had updated to iOS 6 were now stuck without a Google Maps app with no easy way of downgrading, courtesy of Apple. Their only hope? For Google to release a new Maps app via the app store.

For months this didn't happen and the project itself remained a rumour. When it was eventually released, some were surprised at this move by Google and suggested not releasing this crucial app would secure a big win for Android. Perhaps the delay for the app to be immediately released was due to Google trying to decide between one of two paths:

  • Not releasing a Maps application means more Android users
There's a problem with this however. Apple Maps, while already suffering from a negative view by consumers, has the potential to improve quite radically and so in a way it would be stupid for Google to not seize the opportunity to finish off Apple while it's down by releasing an app that would have guaranteed popularity over an equivalent Apple app on Apple's own operating system. So, while in the beginning Android may see a sudden influx of new users, these numbers would be likely to stabilise over time. This is my second point.

  • Releasing a Maps application means dominance
I already explained that Google had the opportunity to best Apple on the grounds of its own operating system. Releasing a Google Maps app for iOS would provide Apple Maps with much less opportunity to improve its image in the eyes of consumers. What's more is Apple has virtually no other option in this situation but to approve Google's app for the app store because not doing so would almost guarantee a loss of users. In addition, providing users with a superior app alternative by Google over an Apple app will build consumer trust for Google and may make it more likely that some may choose their next phone running Android, not iOS.

The first situation means an instant win for Google followed by uncertainty whereas the second situation means a relative win for Google but in the bigger picture not a whole lot, however its consequences for the future are much more favourable. Anyone could see why Google went for the second option. It should be noted that while the first option basically forces users to switch operating systems, the second still provides the user with adequate opportunity for choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment