Apple may ditch Google Maps, launch own service

Could the days of Google Maps on the iPhone be numbered? According to ComputerWorld, Apple has quietly purchased a mapping-software firm, and it may be planning to develop its own maps application in-house.

The first whispers about the acquisition came from a Twitter post in July, which said Apple had purchased Placebase "all hush hush." ComputerWorld has now confirmed the rumor after digging around on LinkedIn, which says Placebase founder and CEO Jaron Waldman is now part of the "Geo Team at Apple." Placebase's former CTO now works as an Apple engineer, too, and the Placebase website is largely offline except for developer documentation pages.

Placebase offered world mapping functionality similar to Google Maps. However, according to an older story by GigaOM, the Placebase software had two advantages: customization options and an application programming interface called PushPin, which allowed developers to "layer commercial and other data sets (such as demographics and crime data) onto the maps."

Why would Apple want to part ways with Google Maps, though? ComputerWorld has a few ideas, pointing out that Google recently tried to offer its own mapping application for the iPhone, which Apple subsequently rejected on the grounds that it was too similar to the built-in software. Google CEO Eric Schmidt also left the Apple board of directors in August because of overlap between Apple products and Google's Android and Chrome OS platforms.

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