Foursquare Partnership May Give Apple a Route to Maps Success
Dec 19, 2012 5:00 AM PT
Apple is in talks with Foursquare about a data-sharing deal that would allow it to use Foursquare's local information to help further develop its mapping application, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
The Foursquare mobile app uses smartphone users' locations to help them find nearby restaurants, bars or services. Users can also check in at locations and display the information on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, sometimes leading to special deals from the location.
If Apple had that kind of information built into its operating system, especially its highly criticized Maps app, users could find local hotspots without having to do a separate search through Google, one of Apple's chief competitors.
Neither company confirmed the report about the talks. Even if this particular partnership doesn't work out, though, a deal to secure local data for Apple is crucial for the company's Maps app, said tech analyst and consultant Jeff Kagan.
"Apple should never have moved away from Google Maps until they were ready. They really jumped the gun on this one and they are paying the price," he told MacNewsWorld. "Foursquare, if it works well with iOS, could give Apple Maps a boost, but this alone will not solve their problems. Adding local data is crucial. This is the direction Google -- their main competitor -- and in fact most mapping services are going."
Beyond the Maps
Integrating local data into Apple Maps isn't just a way to snag a few clicks from Google, though, Kagan pointed out. Mobile operators, app developers and businesses are only beginning to work together to develop location-based services.
Information such as current user locations, search history and other personal information could lead to highly targeted deals, location-based payment options, or other features that will more tightly bind the commerce, social and mobile worlds.
By getting a head start on integrating local data into iOS, Apple could be working toward innovation beyond pointing users away from its competitors.
"We have to remember, mapping is still in its infancy stage," Kagan noted. "There will be plenty of innovation going forward. The Foursquare deal can be important, but don't forget to pull the camera back and look at other things that Apple is doing, with maps and other parts of its operating system as well. Good, easy to use and accurate local data can be the difference between success or failure."
Big Week in China, Europe
A faulty Maps app didn't seem to faze Chinese consumers this week. They bought up more than 2 million iPhone 5s in the first three days the newest phone was available there, according to numbers from Apple. CEO Tim Cook announced it was a record weekend for sales in China.
The boost from China could help ease current investor hesitation with Apple's stock. It has been hovering just above US$500 this week, after trading above $700 in September after the iPhone 5 launched.
"This is a strong number and should help quell investor concerns," Shaw Wu, analyst at Sterne Agee, told MacNewsWorld. "We continue to believe iPhone 5 is a significant update positioned to drive a powerful product cycle."
Strong Chinese sales numbers weren't the only thing to thank for Apple's stock's slight rise to about $530 on Tuesday. The normally contentious relationship between its courtroom rival Samsung eased slightly Tuesday, after Samsung announced it was withdrawing its injunction requests pending in Europe.
Samsung had been seeking injunctions on Apple products in several European nations, including France, Germany and Britain, but said it was acting for the consumer when it made the decision to drop those claims. The move came the day after a U.S. judge rejected an Apple injunction that has asked to ban certain Samsung devices.
Apple did not respond to our request to comment for this story.