Apple has confirmed that it has purchased a company called WifiSLAM for an undisclosed sum. WifiSLAM offers indoor mapping services for mobile devices.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica E. Lessin reported, “Apple Inc. has acquired the indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, a sign that a war over indoor mobile-location services is heating up. Apple paid around $20 million for the Silicon Valley-based startup, according to a person familiar with the matter who said the deal closed recently.”
Michelle Maisto with eWeek observed, “The deal underscores the importance of the growing indoor mapping market, in which it is expected that Apple—as with the outdoor world—will compete first and foremost with Google. Research firm IMS Research forecast in June 2012 that Apple, Google and Microsoft will be the dominant providers of mapping services for indoor spaces, and that by 2016, nearly 120,000 indoor venue maps will be available to consumers.”
The Telegraph’s Richard Holt noted, “Google has invested time and money in accepting more than 10,000 floor plans from businesses who want to be featured. Its service also draws data from nearby Wi-Fi hotspots and signal towers to pinpoint location in a way which is more accurate than satellite positioning. Apple has long been playing catch-up with Google in mapping. Last year it faced a barrage of criticism over omissions and errors in its new Maps app for the iPhone, which it created to replace Google Maps in the newly-released iOS6.”
Reuters quoted an Apple spokesperson, who said, “Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”