The Blame Game

Evan Wiener asks some good questions:

Was Google holding back turn-by-turn navigation from Apple to strengthen Android? If so, didn’t that force Apple’s hand to look elsewhere for map data with a turn-by-turn solution?

That’s not it. Google wasn’t trying to bolster Android by withholding turn-by-turn and vector tiles from iOS. If that was their goal, they wouldn’t have made a standalone iPhone app with these features. They were withholding those features as a negotiating tactic to get Apple to integrate iOS Maps further with Google’s services. (This I’ve heard from numerous sources, from both sides of the negotiations.)

What if Google was strong-arming Apple? Google needs to collect user location data to serve up location-based ads, so what if Apple was protecting me by defaulting to not share user data with Google, who has a profit motive to shove their ugly ads in my face? I could see Google saying that’s a deal breaker for them.

Right, that’s pretty much it.

Google wanting iOS users to be able to sign in — if not be downright encouraged to sign in — to their Google account, that’s easy to understand. That’s how Google makes money, by selling ads that target us based on the information they collect as we use their services. Apple not wanting to grant such access to Google is easy to understand as well. For one thing, Apple sincerely values the privacy of its users more than Google does. Remember the thing with magazine app subscriptions — where magazine publishers wanted Apple to provide them with personal information about subscribers, and Apple wouldn’t allow it? And part of it too is simple competition — why would Apple help Google pull further ahead in a lucrative and essential service?

I’d say neither company was being a “jerk” here. Apple and Google were both acting in their own interests.

Friday, 14 December 2012