CEO Tim Cook, who took over from late co-founder Steve Jobs last August, spearheaded the unveiling of new services — such as in-house mapping, beefed-up Siri software, address-bar search on its Safari browser — to help keep at bay Google and its fast-growing Android mobile platform.
Apple (AAPL.O) tweaked several features in its mobile operating system to try to enhance its ability to entice users to stay within its ecosystem. The upgrades marked a bolstering of Apple’s arsenal as it tries to keep its top-down applications and hardware environment ahead of competition from Android device makers such as Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) and Motorola Mobility.
But the highlight was the debut of Apple’s in-house mapping service after years of development, a direct challenge to the same Google (GOOG.O) service that is one of the most popular functions on both Android smartphones and the iPhone.
Apple’s new mobile software — the iOS6 — will be available in the fall. It comes with a mapping system “built from the ground up,” said software chief Scott Forstall.
It will be replacing Google Maps, until now a pre-loaded app on the iPhone and iPad, with its own in-house map service, delivering a big blow to Google, which gets about half its mobile map traffic from Apple mobile devices.
The move signals how the friendship between the two tech giants — former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once sat on Apple’s board — has become a bitter rivalry shaping the evolution of the mobile industry. Late co-founder Jobs was famously quoted as saying he was willing to go “thermonuclear” on the search leader, after it decided to position Android against the iPhone.
Now Apple will do its utmost to reduce its reliance on Google, said Colin Gillis, analyst with BGC Partners.
“What happens if one day Google decides to not provide Apple with maps,” said Gillis. “You can’t have that kind of dependency on a competitor.” Read More