This budding relationship between Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) is getting serious. If the two tech behemoths don't watch themselves, people are going to start talking. Why? For the second time in a week, Google and Apple have announced a pooling of their considerable resources, for the betterment of all.
It's no secret the maps app on the recent iPhone 5 release was a disaster. Even iFanatics -- through tightly clenched teeth -- were forced to admit Apple's Maps on its new iOS 6 platform was a mistake. The decision to snub Google and traverse the map terrain alone cost a longtime Apple executive his job, upset iPhone users, and quickly became a PR nightmare.
What's done is done
To Apple's credit, it didn't try to gloss over the mistake of going solo and rolling out its own map application. Rather, Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized to iFans for the snafu, and promised to make things right. How bad was it? Apple executive and longtime Steve Jobs associate Scott Forstall was politely shown the door, in large part because of the handling of the iPhone 5 maps fiasco. As it turns out, the way to make things right with Apple iPhone users is to go back to where it all started.
Late yesterday, Google's official corporate blog let the world know its maps are back, and ready for downloading whenever you are. A quick trip to the Apple iStore is all it takes, and based on the nearly 8,500 customer reviews: so far, so good.
Google's announcement that its maps are once again available on the iPhone, for versions iOS 5.1 and higher, follows the news its partnering with Apple in bidding on Kodak's patent portfolio. Rather than each approaching beleaguered Kodak to bid on its many patents on a one-off basis, Google and Apple have combined to offer more than $500 million for the whole ball of wax. As with the decision to bring Google maps back, partnering to bid on the Kodak patents is a win-win.
What's the lovefest mean?
For Google investors, the return of maps to iPhones is significant. Not only does it confirm Google maps as a must-have mobile application, but users are required to log into their Google account to access the tool. More Google account users, more data; more data, better targeted advertising for Google business customers. Perfect.
But Google's hardly alone in the iPhone map wars. Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) released its own updated map alternative for iPhone users last month. Though there are concerns about the download speeds of Nokia's maps, its recent acquisition of Earthmine should alleviate the problem, along with boosting Nokia's 3D mapping capabilities.
For iFans, the return of Google maps, along with the Nokia alternative, should lay to rest the gripes from non-Apple lovers (yes, they're out there) regarding the "shortcomings" of the new iPhone. Though Apple shareholders have experienced a few hiccups of late, they, along with Google investors, are looking at very attractive, long-term risk/reward levels right now. Apple's share price decline has made the world's biggest company an even better value, and you won't hear that very often.
The return of maps, and the joining of forces to bid on cutting-edge patents may not constitute a long-term relationship, but it won't be long before Google and Apple shareholders start feeling the love.
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