June 12, 2012

Apple Dumps Google, Turns To TomTom

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com

Apple didn´t only announce a brand new Maps application during their WWDC 2012 Keynote: They also announced their independence from Google.

For years, Apple had relied on the search giant´s cache of data to power the maps app on every iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch sold. Now, after years of making acquisitions and shoring up their servers, Apple is ready to step away from Google´s data umbrella and move their Maps app in house.

Or are they?

Some eagle-eyed Apple fans noticed something peculiar during yesterday´s keynote as Apple was flaunting their new work. When the “page” had been flipped up in the app to reveal the “Drop Pin,” “Print,” “Show Traffic,” and “List Results” selections, a brief disclaimer of sorts appeared on top, listing TomTom and “others” responsible for the map data.

Today, TomTom confirmed these reports in a statement posted online. Simply put, "TomTom“¦has signed a global agreement with Apple® for maps and related information. No further details of the agreement will be provided."

Of course, news of signing such a deal with the world´s second largest phone manufacturer is bound to garner some attention. As such, the Associated Press reported today shares of TomTom have surged upon their announcement of the Apple deal. According to the AP, shares of TOM2.AS have risen more than 12% in Amsterdam on Tuesday, running $4.56 per. At the time of this writing, shares have risen by 14.49%.

Though it´s not yet clear exactly how TomTom will directly profit from this partnership, SNS Securities analyst Martijn den Drijver told the AP, Apple´s willingness to work with the Dutch navigation company could be seen as a sign of good faith, boosting TomTom´s image while it gains access to the millions of iDevice users.

Apple´s newest version of their Maps app will feature brand new features such as Flyover (a 3D mode wherein users can search a city by virtually “flying” over it), interactive 3D views and turn-by-turn navigation. In addition to being able to use gestures–such as pinch and pull– the new Apple maps will work with the accelerometer and gyroscope, allowing users to tilt and rotate their devices to get a better view of where they are heading.

While it´s been in Google´s Android operating system for quite some time, Apple has been notoriously late to the navigation game. The new version of Maps will finally bring native turn-by-turn to Apple users. Siri will act as the voice for the navigation system while large signs and arrows (which imitate those familiar street signs) will display the next turn. Maps will also keep an updated tally on an estimated time of arrival, while Siri can find the closest fast food joint or gas station lies on the route.

Finally, the new Maps app will gather real-time traffic information by anonymously collecting other iPhone users travel information. As such, Maps and Siri can work together to find a faster route should an incident begin to impede the flow of traffic.

Though Apple has packed plenty of features into their new Maps offering (not the least of which is an integration with their entire ecosystem) it´s being said they wanted to rely on TomTom to ensure accurate maps information. Such news could be beneficial to TomTom, as the AP reports they performed poorly in the last quarter, losing $187 million as sales slipped by 12%. Apple will release the new Maps app with iOS 6 this fall.