Apple’s Maps app won’t debut for several months, but it already has some 20 million more business listings than Google, according to data disclosed by the companies.
The new mapping program for the iPhone and iPad will have more than 100 million businesses listed in its database when it’s released this fall, Apple Senior Vice President Scott Forstall said during yesterday’s keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference.
“This is a worldwide effort,” said Forstall, who’s in charge of iPhone software. “You have to be able to find businesses and points of interest. And so we’ve already ingested more than 100 million business listings around the world to make a great local search.”
Google has 80 million local business listings available in its mapping software and search engines, a spokeswoman for the company told Bloomberg. Google Maps, which was created through the acquisition of Where 2 Technologies in 2004, has more than 1 billion active users, Brian McClendon, a Google vice president, said last week.
Maps and local-business search is the latest battleground in the heating rivalry between Apple and Google for mobile-phone buyers. Searching for restaurants, shops and other places nearby is among the most popular activities done on smartphones, making up about 40 percent of search queries, Google has said. That’s why business listings, which are pages that help users locate or contact the closest sushi bar or coffee shop, have become a major asset.
Apple’s Maps will come pre-installed on its mobile devices, replacing Google Maps. IPhone and iPad users will still be able to access Google’s mapping tools through a Web browser or by downloading the Google Earth app.
Apple’s move away from Google Maps, which has been on the iPhone since 2007, has been years in the making. From 2009 to 2011, Apple acquired mapping companies Placebase, Poly9 and C3 Technologies. In addition, Apple signed a deal with TomTom, Europe’s largest maker of portable navigation devices, and uses data from OpenStreetMap and Yelp.
Apple Maps, which will debut alongside iOS 6 in the fall, has many of the features available in the Google Maps tool that’s bundled with Android smartphones. Satellite views, turn-by-turn navigation, traffic reports and voice commands will be included.
Last week, Google pre-empted Apple by announcing an upgrade to its mapping services that includes a flyover feature similar to Apple’s, which allows users to explore cities by zooming between skyscrapers like Superman. Google also said its new app will give users access to maps even when there’s no Internet connection.