Google Maps iOS 6 saga suggests nobody wins in 'smartphone wars'

Google Maps iOS 6 saga suggests nobody wins in 'smartphone wars'We've already covered the download frenzy that resulted in Google Maps finally becoming available for iOS 6 users after Apple initially tried to push its own badly flawed Apple Maps offering as the default mapping solution in its place.

The move has been held up as an example of how the ordinary consumer has increasingly paid the price for the escalating “smartphone wars” mentality dominating the mobile industry these days, and looking at new data from ad network MoPub, it's hard to argue.

Using data taken from the 12,000 iOS apps it supports, the network found that iOS 6 adoption itself grew a massive 29% in the five days following Google Maps' appearance in the App Store last week.

The conclusion is obvious: Apple's refusal to let users download Google Maps was directly resulting in people steering clear of its latest OS altogether.

“We observed since the launch of Google Maps for iOS 6 a 30% increase in unique iOS 6 users, and we think it’s related to Google Maps,” MoPub boss Jim Payne said in comments to TechCrunch. “It verifies the hypothesis that people were actually holding back to upgrade until Google Maps was available.”

Now it's fair to say that Apple's true mistake was less trying to gain a competitive advantage over a key rival than failing to deliver a credible alternative in its place. After all, most people who specifically chose to avoid iOS 6 purely because of the mapping debacle didn't do so because of how good Google Maps is, but rather because of the endless coverage of how bad Apple Maps was.

But it puts actual numbers against the popular theory that Apple's real mistake was the high-level prioritising of strategically damaging a rival over making sure that its own product was good enough to hold its own in comparison.

When that happens, some people may shake their heads, some might point and laugh, others still (the 29% mentioned here) will wait for common sense to prevail, but nobody - not Apple, not Google, or anyone using either company's products - actually ends up better off.

Read more about: iOS

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3 comments

Pondlife  Dec. 19, 2012 at 16:45

Wonder how many that could upgrade are still on ios5.
Some of that spike will be due to the launch in China won't it?

kwl147  Dec. 19, 2012 at 17:11

Its a long shot but Apple could have won from this battle with Google. Apple has always wanted navigation turn by turn from google in its maps and google has always said no given that its exclusive on Android, Apple has got what it might have wanted all along. That said its more likely to have hurt Apple then not. The fact they've been in talks with numerous firms for mapping data and employing new people who worked with google with mapping does make me think the conspiracy isn't there.

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 19, 2012 at 17:34

Its a long shot but Apple could have won from this battle with Google. Apple has always wanted navigation turn by turn from google in its maps and google has always said no given that its exclusive on Android, Apple has got what it might have wanted all along. That said its more likely to have hurt Apple then not. The fact they've been in talks with numerous firms for mapping data and employing new people who worked with google with mapping does make me think the conspiracy isn't there.
The whole "Apple only f*cked up their own maps so Google would release a better version of GMaps (including turn-by-turn nav) for iOS" argument makes absolutely no sense. Unless Apple have suddenly hired Nokia's senior management team, a decision like that would never have been made.

I'm assuming the whole theory was dreamed up by some die-hard Apple fan who couldn't come to terms with the fact something his (I'm assuming it would have been a bloke) precious Apple had done was, put bluntly, undeniably crap.

The simple fact is, Apple tried to compete with one of the world's best free mapping services, and their effort just wasn't good enough. I'm sure it'll improve with time, but the damage is done. The general public (yes, normal people know about this one, unlike most technology f*ck-ups which sail straight over the head of Joe Bloggs) will never see Apple maps as being a viable competitor to GMaps.

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