Waze CEO discusses the state of iOS 6 Maps

Waze Noam Bardin (Dive Into Mobile 001)

Waze, a free social GPS application developed by the Israeli start-up Waze Mobile, at point was supposedly going to be acquired by Apple in order to improve iOS 6 Maps data, though later reports dismissed the rumor as wishful thinking.

Its CEO Noam Bardin was interviewed at AllThingsD’s Dive Into Mobile conference yesterday.

Among the topics discussed, Barding shared his observations concerning Apple’s Maps service which debuted as part of iOS 6 in September 2012, here’s what he said…

According to an excerpt provided by Engadget, Bardin underscored the high expectations people have from mapping products:

Consumers now have a quality bar, and that bar is going up rapidly. Two years ago, Apple’s Maps app on iOS 6 would’ve been a fine product.

He thinks Apple’s ongoing mapping woes stem from the reliance on a bevy of third-party providers that supply the company with crucial data. The problem is, he opined, partners such as TomTom are unable to out-invest Google in this regard:

Google is out there creating a standard of quality. We feel like we’re the only real competition. Rumors say it is $1 billion to $2 billion spent by Google a year.

When asked specifically on the quality of Apple’s mapping engine, he responded:

Apple Maps are definitely getting better, but the challenge Apple has is that it’s hostage to its vendors – and those vendors are weak these days. TomTom is challenged, whereas Google has an unlimited war chest to better its apps.

Two billion dollars in annual costs just to keep a mapping service running is a hell of a lot of money, even by Apple’s standards. Now, Apple sits on the huge $137 billion cash pile so it could certainly pour billion into making Maps better.

Looking at the bigger picture, monetization is a key issue.

Amazing Apple Maps (image 001)

Google’s ad-driven business model allows the firm to recover some of the costs with ads. Apple’s iAds platform, on the other hand, is currently lingering out there. Worse, there are no indications the company might be considering injecting advertising into iOS 6 Maps.

Before that even becomes a possibility, Apple would have to bring its Maps platform on Mac and PC desktops. For what it’s worth, “reliable sources” told Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac last November that both Maps and Siri are coming to OS X 10.9, the next major revision to Apple’s desktop operating system.

And in the summer of 2012, one developer had discovered hooks in the then beta iOS 6 code, suggesting some sort of Maps integration with the Mac operating system.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bardin dissed Android as an iOS rip of (emphasis mine):

There’s a bigger question of what happens with mobile in general. Overall, there isn’t much difference between a high-end Android and iOS phone, despite the fact that Android is a knockoff of iOS.

Samsung and Apple seem to think that they’re going to provide everything. Apple believes services will drive hardware, while Google wants to own each user regardless of hardware, so you have differing philosophies.

He also said that “Apple really needs to learn to partner,” citing tight Facebook and Twitter integration is making the overall iOS user experience “better for both the partner and for Apple.”

Here’s a video, courtesy of AllThingsD.

Interestingly enough, Waze owes much of its popularity to Apple.

The company debuted the service in the United States back in 2010, supporting such features as turn-by-turn navigation, voice commands and 3-D views of the road, to name a few.

Following the Maps backlash, Apple issued a rare CEO apology and offered alternatives via a dedicated App Store section “while we’re improving Maps.”

Waze was listed as one of several third-party services.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Shortly after, Waze’s popularity surged tremendously.