If you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the financial markets, you'll have heard that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) week-long Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) opened today in San Francisco. Despite all that, there's another tech story that broke yesterday that proves that Apple's competitors aren't standing still, as search giant Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is reported to be in advanced talks to complete an acquisition that hits right at one of Apple's areas of weakness.
The culture of corporate secrecy at Apple means that events like the WWDC elicit huge interest -- and expectations -- from investors. All the more so at a time at which Apple shares have lost more than a third of their value relative to the all-time high they achieved last September. Investors are eager for the next magical product that will put the stock on a new, upward trajectory.
Apple's laundry list
So let's sum up what Apple brought to the table this morning:
- A new version of its iPhone operating system, iOS 7, which will work on the iPhone 4 ... mostly. Some of the key new features aren't backwards-compatible, and that will help motivate users to update their iPhones.
- A streaming radio service that will compete with Pandora and Spotify (it's fully integrated in iOS 7.)
- A new version of OS X named "Mavericks" along with a new line of MacBook Air laptops and a sleek new Mac Pro desktop.
So just what did Google pull off? According to Reuters, the company is on the verge of announcing the acquisition of online mapping company Waze for $1.3 billion. Waze, a private company that's just four years old, already has 47 million users; its technology aggregates the data from satellite signals from users' smartphones to produce maps and traffic information.
Google Maps is already very popular; Apple Maps for the iOS 6 was an embarrassment for the company at its launch. Worse yet -- if true -- according to media reports earlier this year, Apple itself was in discussions to acquire Waze.
Google is a credible threat and more to Apple on multiple fronts. As Bloomberg's Mark Millan wrote in his live-blog of the keynote: "Federighi is touting 'advanced technologies' in Safari. Apple is losing the desktop Web browser war to Google, but it's not giving up." (Craig Federighi is Apple's senior vice president of software engineering.) With the acquisition of Waze, Google is ratcheting up the pressure with on Apple in the battle for supremacy in mobile devices.
While one-day share-price movements carry a heavy dose of randomness, the market's verdict today was seemingly Google 1, Apple 0 today: Shares of the former were up 1.2%, while those of the latter were down two-thirds of a percent in a flat market. (The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) were down less than a tenth of a percent.)
Fool contributor Alex Dumortier, CFA, has no position in any stocks mentioned; you can follow him on LinkedIn. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.