Apple on Wednesday said it has acquired Poly9, a Quebec-based mapping company whose features it may use to replace Google Earth in its iPhone line as its mapping application.
Poly9 is the second mapping company Apple has acquired in less than a year, following the purchase of Placebase, which features interface technology similar to Google Maps. Likewise, Poly9’s “Poly9 Globe” is considered a Flash-based version of Google Earth.
Apple has not disclosed what exactly it plans to do with the Poly9 technology, but some partners believe it will be used to beef up existing iPhone mapping apps.
“It’s most likely a push to be able to provide more location-aware products and capabilities,” said Andrew Plato, president of Anitian Enterprise Security, based in Beaverton, Ore. “That is one of the iPhone's strongest features, that it can provide content based on where you are standing.”
The move may also shift attention from a thorn currently in the company’s side, said another partner. “I think the bigger story is still the (antenna) problems with the iPhone 4 and how Apple is mishandling that fiasco," said Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a solution provider in Fresno, Calif.
Plato said Apple is far back of Google in mapping features. "Apple has a long way to go on mapping products,” Plato said. “Google -- and even Microsoft -- are way out in front of them. It’s a sound strategy.”
The move apparently has been in the works for a while as the majority of Poly9 workers have already relocated to the Apple campus, according to cyberpresse.ca, a Canadian news Website.