iPhone Maps Now Showing Ads: Will Apple Use Placebase?

ads in iphone google mapsSeveral bloggers pointed out the fact that Google has started to place “user-generated content” and advertising inside its maps application on the iPhone.  While it may come as no surprise, does it have anything to do with Apple’s recent quiet acquisition of Placebase?  Maybe not, but many signs point to Google and Apple having differing opinions on the subject.

While likely completely un-related, it’s interesting that Google has chosen now to introduce ads in its maps application when it could have done so since the beginning.  Also interesting is the fact that Apple has been so secretive of its plans with Placebase, a unique mapping startup based in Los Angeles that, in some aspects, is superior to Google Maps from a mobile perspective.

According to its founder, Placebase set itself apart by doing two things:  first, by offering customizations and tons of features that integrated private and public data sets in many diverse ways, and second by offering a way to layer commercial and other data sets (such as demographics and crime data) onto the maps using an easy-to-use application programming interface (API).  Primarily, they knew it would be a while before Google would get around to offering customization, and that approach made them successful until their acquisition by Apple.

Apple is likely turning Placebase into its own mapping solution that could be applied to the iPhone and its upcoming tablet device.  Placebase has been successful in taking niche data-sets, such as fleet tracking and real estate information and integrating it with maps.  “Google Maps is great for consumer usage, but we are making it easy for large companies to take our Maps API, customize it and then use it,” the company’s founder said.  This is something Apple could use to its advantage by creating different niche map-based apps for the iPhone, for example.

Taking into account the fact that Google’s CEO was forced to step down from Apple’s board citing “the two companies are becoming increasingly competitive in similar areas,” as well as the fact that Apple forced Google to make Latitude a Web-based app instead of a native iPhone app, it’s easy to put the pieces together and confirm that both Google and Apple have different opinions on what should happen in terms of mapping capabilities on the iPhone and beyond.