The battle of mobile map apps was just taken to a new level last week, with Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) announcement that it was at long last ditching Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) in iOS maps, after spending years building up an in-house offering using multiple key acquisitions over the years.
I had wondered whether Apple would have much trouble replacing Google's backend data, and iOS chief Scott Forstall addressed this concern when he said that Apple had "ingested" 100 million business listings, which undoubtedly had a lot to do with its partnership with well-known GPS player TomTom (OTC: TMOAF) as well as Yelp (Nasdaq: YELP ) .
Apple also uses data from OpenStreetMap, which interestingly means that Apple is also getting data from longtime nemesis Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) , which provides a royalty-free use of its Bing Maps images to OpenStreetMap.
The real question was how that database of business listings stacked up against Big G, and according to a recent Bloomberg report, it does pretty well. The search giant has just 80 million local business listings available, so Apple has 25% more local listings available through its slew of partnerships and public data.
In this way, you might even say that Apple Maps is already better than Google Maps, even though Google's offering predates Apple's by several years and Apple's has yet to be publicly released.
The two mapping apps see feature parity in other areas such as turn-by-turn navigation. Even Cupertino's fancy new 3-D rendering Flyover feature is almost identical to the one Google showed off at a dedicated mapping event a week prior. Google notably said it remains "committed to offering [maps] services on all platforms," including iOS.
As far as how the two apps will stack up in other ways, the rest of us will just have to wait until we can get our hands on the new one this fall.
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