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Apple kicks Google Maps off iPhone, adds Facebook
Apple is escalating the feud between two of the world’s most influential companies by dumping Google’s mapping service as a built-in feature on most iPhones and iPads. Apple is also making it easier for users of those devices to share their lives on Facebook instead of Google’s competing social network.
The snubs are part of an upgraded mobile operating system that Apple previewed Monday to kick off its 23rd annual developers conference in San Francisco.
Google’s mapping service will be replaced by an Apple-designed alternative when the new software for mobile devices, iOS 6, is released this fall. Those who want to continue using Google Maps will have to go through additional hurdle, such as finding and installing its app.
It represents a major blow for Google Inc., which stands to lose mobile advertising revenue and valuable insights about people’s whereabouts if users of the popular iPhone and iPad devices switch to Apple’s mapping service.
Apple and Google are locked in a fight for the attention of hundreds of millions of mobile device users. The battle has been building since Google’s 2008 release of its Android operating system to compete against the iPhone.
Android smartphones from companies such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Google’s own Motorola division are the chief alternatives to the iPhone. Apple has sued those manufacturers, accusing them of ripping off the iPhone’s ground-breaking features.
Google’s Maps application has resided on the iPhone since the device’s 2007 debut. At that time, the companies were so close that Eric Schmidt, then Google’s CEO, appeared on stage with Jobs to hail their kinship.
Android destroyed the relationship. Before he died last October, Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he viewed Android as a form of “grand theft” from Apple and declared “thermonuclear war” against his former ally.
“This is a slap in Google’s face,” said Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who got to know Jobs well during his 32 years following the company. “I don’t think Apple is ever going to be able to bury Android, but this is making it clear that they aren’t going to send any more ad revenue Google’s way, if at all possible.”
Apple updates its iOS software every year, to coincide with the launch of a new iPhone. Google is scheduled to show off the latest developments in Android at a conference that will be held at the same San Francisco venue beginning June 27.
In a statement Monday, Google said it is “looking forward to continuing to build the perfect map for our users in the months and years ahead.” In anticipation of Apple’s announcement, Google last week previewed a series of upgrades to its mapping service in an effort to make it more convenient and compelling.
In another jab at Google, Apple also said it’s building Facebook into iOS 6. That threatens to make it more difficult for Google to drive traffic to its Google Plus social network, a high priority for the company. As it is, Google has more than 170 million users while Facebook has more than 900 million users.
The tie-in with Apple’s mobile devices could be a boon for Facebook Inc., based on the usage of Twitter since that online messaging service became part of the current mobile system, iOS 5. Apple says more than 10 billion tweets have been sent from its mobile devices since last year’s upgrade to iOS 5.
By John R. Bolton
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