Apple Beefs Up Maps Some More

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) been snapping up start-ups lately, although most of the time investors don't catch wind of it. Last month, Tim Cook said the company had already acquired about nine companies since October, compared to its prior rate of making a purchase every 60 to 75 days.

Like most things, the Mac maker likes to play its acquisitions close to the chest, preferring to buy small companies under the radar in order to avoid disclosure requirements. Sometimes that's unavoidable, though, such as when it bought publicly traded AuthenTec last year.

AllThingsD has now sniffed out an acquisition, reporting that Apple has picked up small Canadian start-up Locationary. The small company aggregates and organizes data on businesses, and its Saturn platform uses "real-time blending technology" that merges data from multiple sources. Its unclear how much Apple may have paid to pick up Locationary.

There's not much else that Apple could do with Locationary other than integrate it into its Maps service. Earlier this year, Apple also acquired WifiSLAM, which uses indoor Wi-Fi signals to improve location accuracy, in another mapping-related purchase.

Locationary CEO and founder Grant Ritchie wrote an article on TechCrunch last year about some of Apple's mapping issues that needed to be addressed. It's possible that Apple took note of the criticism, and put Ritchie up to the task of fixing them for the Cupertino giant.

While Apple Maps has received no shortage of justified criticism, the company isn't giving up quite yet. On the contrary, Apple is investing heavily to beef up the service and is even bringing Maps to its desktop platform to challenge Google Maps further. OS X Mavericks, which will be released later this year, will include a native Maps app that features Apple-esque levels of integration with other devices.

Apple Maps has a long way to go if it ever hopes to be a viable alternative to Google Maps, which continues to be the defining mapping service, but beefing it up with new acquisitions is a step in the right direction.

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