One of the key reasons why Google has better data than Apple is the fact that for many years users of Google Maps have been sending corrections to Google, which has improved its accuracy significantly. So by not submitting Google Maps to the App Store, Google would not only give up a very significant portion of its mobile revenue, but more importantly, it would self-induce a debilitating data-blindness on the world’s most lucrative mobile ecosystem.
That’s a great point, and Apple provided that feedback mechanism right in Maps on iOS. A larger point about this mapping kerfuffle for Google is that Google simply cannot stand to be complacent here. By not introducing a Google Maps app ASAP, Google is giving iOS users a taste at a different mapping platform and the risk is that users might like Apple Maps and that Apple Maps may get so good so fast from user feedback, that Google’s offering would be rendered irrelevant.
A good friend of mine, and long time Android user, called me Saturday telling me he was probably going to get an iPhone 5. I was shocked, but encouraged him to do so. He managed to find one from Radio Shack, purchased it and set it up. He’s a smart guy, but he does rely on friend-tech-support often yet there’s one thing he said to me that I think is pretty telling, given the fact he is a first time iOS owner: “I downloaded some apps already, like YouTube because apparently that doesn’t come on the phone, but it’s free, so I got that.”
In his mind downloading a YouTube app (which Apple removed from iOS 6) was basic — it was essential to using his phone. Yet there’s no Google Maps — he may not even know that Maps is not Google Maps — he likely doesn’t care either. However, if Google had Google Maps in the App Store when he found the YouTube app, I have no doubt he would have instantly downloaded it — that’s what everyone uses on their computers after all.
What if in another month Google launches the Google Maps app, will my buddy still deem that a no-brainer download at that point, or will he wonder why he would need another Maps application?