Bloomberg just reported that Apple likely chose AutoNavi to offer mapping services in China. Citing “two people with knowledge of the matter”, the publication claims that Apple chose AutoNavi, a Chinese maker of electronic navigation tools, to offer map services for “users of future iPhones and iPads in China” (what they meant is iOS 6-enabled devices)…

Mark Lee and Adam Satariano, writing for Bloomberg, explain:

AutoNavi will supply its maps of China to users of the iOS 6 operating system, an upgrade for iPhones and iPads that will be released by Apple this fall, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named before an announcement.

Beijing-based AutoNavi accounted for 45 percent of China’s mobile map market in the first quarter and second-ranked NavInfo controlled 43 percent. It’s interesting that AutoNavi has a joint-venture with Amsterdam-based TomTom in China.

Apple is also partnering with Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, in a revenue sharing scheme  that’ll see the iPhone maker preload Baidu as the default search engine on iOS 6 devices sold in the 1.33 billion people market.

iOS 6 also brings strong support for Chinese services and features specific to the local market.

AutoNavi, of course, is one of several data providers Apple employs to deliver its in-house mapping solution in iOS 6, a major operating system update scheduled for this fall.

For example, TomTom supplies Apple with its continuously updated mapping data. Cupertino is also using Bing Maps images, crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap data, DigitalGlobe and a bunch of other providers that cater to specific features of the new Maps app, like navigation, traffic data, satellite imagery, traffic conditions, mapping tiles, places of interest, social features, reviews and more.

The intention is to drive local search traffic away from Google Maps and contain Google services in iOS 6.

Thoughts?