Apple maps collision course with Google

Contact: Jarrett Streebin

Marking its second purchase of a mapping company in just nine months, Apple reportedly reached for startup Poly9 Group last week. Not much is known about Quebec City-based Poly9, which makes interactive 3-D software. (And not much can be gleaned from the company’s website, which no longer loads.)

Apple’s latest acquisition comes on the heels of its pickup of Placebase last October. The Los Angeles-based startup, which had been bootstrapped, specialized in maps similar to Google Maps but with more customization. With Poly9, Apple adds 3-D mapping capabilities that are comparable to Google Earth. Currently, Apple phones use Google Maps for mapping – but we can only assume that’s going to change once Apple rolls out these features.

Of course, this is just another area where the two once-friendly tech giants are finding themselves in competition with one another. And it’s not the first time that M&A has figured into the fight. Back in January, after losing the bidding war with Google for mobile advertising startup AdMob, Apple turned around and bought Quattro Wireless. Since then, Apple has rolled out its own mobile advertising platform, iAd. Apple’s expansion into mapping will definitely help its advertising efforts as mobile ads become increasingly targeted to a user’s exact location. With Apple and Google, which each hold some $30bn in cash, both targeting some of the same markets, we suspect they’ll be bumping into each other in future deals as well.