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Businesses Apple Technology

Apple Acquires GPS Start-Up 71

An anonymous reader writes: Apple is still sprinting to catch up with Google with its navigation software — the company just acquired Coherent Navigation, a startup focused on GPS tech. Its navigation services are reportedly more precise than most commercial-grade systems. Their system "combines signals from the traditional mid-earth orbit GPS satellites with those from the low-earth satellites of voice and data provider Iridium to offer greater accuracy and precision, higher signal integrity, and greater jam resistance." They've already worked with Boeing and the U.S. Department of Defense. Apple didn't disclose the terms of the deal or explain any specific plans for the GPS technology.
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Apple Acquires GPS Start-Up

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  • It strikes me that Apple and Google are two companies competing in different market niches. Apple being hardware, and Google being user information (for advertisers). How does Apple "monetize" its userbase information right now?

    Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service? It only benefit their iphone niche until they can't sustain a lower end iphone market.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service?

      Because Google is the competitor, plus they want full control over the experience. Is it a smart decision to rely on your competitor to provide a service to all your customers because you're too lazy and cheap to do it yourself? Whatever they paid for Coherent Navigation was less than couch change.

      • Further, I think apple is trying to make all iphones go "dark" from google's perspective, the way that fbook is a black box for google. Considering how many people use iphones and how they are a premium product, it must drive goog nuts that they don't know what these people are doing or where they are going.

        • Lots of people on iPhones use Google Maps.
          • Yes but it's not the _default_ and it's not used by any of the integrated apple software that uses a map nor does it plug into the contacts etc.

            • The point is that Google doesn't need all the Apple iPhone users to use Google maps. There's millions of them that do. That's a big enough sample size to pretty much know, statistically, where iPhone users are going. Much as you'd like to believe that you're important enough for them to want to know where YOU are, you're not. They just want the trends. They have that.
      • The computer systems built into cars is a big market, and is soon to become much bigger. The cell phone market is already saturated, and prices are trending down. But look at the computer built into a Tesla, and imagine every car with something like that, as automatic cruise control, lane control, and full self driving cars take off. It is going to be a trillion dollar market. That is what this acquisition is about.

        • But Apple doesn't make cars, or GPS auto map devices.

          Apple leases out search; why does it feels compelled to create its inferior mapping service? Why not just license mapquest/whatever, or come to an agreement with Google?

          • But Apple doesn't make cars, or GPS auto map devices.

            Not yet. But they are investing billions in dashboard systems, navigation, and SDCs.

            Why not just license mapquest/whatever, or come to an agreement with Google?

            Mapquest data is worse than what Apple has now. Google is going to compete directly with Android-based dashboard systems, and IS building cars, They would be insane to rely on Google. That would be like Ford paying Chrysler to build their engines.

            But this particular acquisition isn't about getting access to data. It is about technology. If SDCs are over-reliant on GPS, they are vulnerable if GPS shuts down, or is disabl

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service?

      It is hard to estimate how much it is worth to apple to not have the Google logo on their map service.
      Apple is aiming at providing a coherent and complete solution and user experience. If there are third party components in there the customer can get the impression that they can get a similar experience elsewhere.

      Sure, there probably is a point where it is just too expensive to keep up that appearance but they have invested quite a lot in the "think different" marketing campaign.
      I suspect that they are will

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service?

      Because Google forced them too.

      Google was not going to continue to allow the previous Apple developed, Google data backed iOS mapping software without Apple sharing user data with them. The two companies couldn't come to an agreement, so Apple had to develop their own maps.

      And I'm glad they did. As a developer, the Apple maps are free to use. That is not true for Google maps.

    • Apple is obviously eating companies and barfing up cash like a corporate NoFace at this point - there was a story here just the other day about calculating location to 1/3 meter using DSP on GPS multipath reflections which is good enough for anything but robotic construction. Iridium reception is going to just add cost - the overwhelming trend is cheaper sensors and more processing power.

      • Apple is obviously eating companies and barfing up cash like a corporate NoFace at this point

        As opposed to? Google bought 7 companies this years alone. And let's not forget:they also bought "Google" Maps.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service?

      I think

      1) They don't want to be held hostage
      2) They can provide a high degree of integration and services on their mapping service than they could using Google's offering.

      It only benefit their iphone niche until they can't sustain a lower end iphone market.

      I don't understand this. I'm not sure they won't be moving down market not up market given they own the entire up market. Why wouldn't they be able to sustain a lower e

      • > I'm not sure they won't be moving down market

        They'll never move to the lower end of the market, because its tight margins means no profit. They basically will abandon the low end to feature phones and android. Market efficiencies are going to keep driving down the costs of android/feature phones to the point that Apple can't make an obscene profit on outdated iPhones. At that point, Apple will only offer products in the high end market, at an obscene profit margin.

        My point is that its not worth burn

        • by jbolden ( 176878 )

          Apple today only sells to the "high end" of the market. They mostly sell $500+ and they have some share $400-500 with no share below that. Their phone is already niche in the way you claim it will eventually be.

    • How does Apple "monetize" its userbase information right now?

      It doesn't, because it doesn't need to (see: Stock Price, cash on hand).

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service?

      Apple maps are superior to Google Maps at this point. They are more readable for one thing (true from the outset) but also I have noticed more errors lately in Google Maps than Apple Maps (and Google Maps always had errors to begin with).

      The reason Apple continues forward is because that way they d

    • Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service? It only benefit their iphone niche until they can't sustain a lower end iphone market.

      They are just copying a Google strategy. Google does things just to mess up things for competitors. That's why you have Google Apps (take that, Microsoft!) and Android (take that, Apple!). Maps is just a bit of payback. A few billion dollars that don't end up in Google's pocket. That alone is worth it for Apple.

      That said, when was the last time you looked at Apple Maps? Used it in London at the weekend, and it looked quite a bit better than Google maps. On a iPad or iPhone, it is ages better.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      It strikes me that Apple and Google are two companies competing in different market niches. Apple being hardware, and Google being user information (for advertisers). How does Apple "monetize" its userbase information right now?

      Why does Apple feel the compulsion to plow money into an inferior map service? It only benefit their iphone niche until they can't sustain a lower end iphone market.

      Easy - Apple's making money hand over fist. Right now their catchline is "You're not a product - buy an iPhone, and you

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can see why Apple is interested in this technology, I am also interested to see better precision of GPS signal for our systems [trackensure.com]. What navigation systems have to do with the poor quality signal is not great. Using map information to correct for bad signal that bounces around due to reflection and such is not a perfect solution, having a better signal is much better, though I wonder whether map based correction takes less energy than GPS signal correction based on more GPS sources. In any case hope it lead

  • The Iridium project bankrupted Motorola (it was motorola right?). Are they putting up new satellites to the Iridium constellation? Did they ever completed it and put up all the planned satellites in orbit? How long are these satellites going to last?
  • - What big GPS you have, granny!
    - The better to track you with, my dear.

    • You do understand that basic GPS cannot track you, right?
      • You do understand that basic GPS cannot track you, right?

        Presumably, since Apple bought them, this technology will be put in phones, which tend to have data connections.

        • And Apple can't do that now with the current technology? This startup's tech may make tracking more precise but it isn't as if suddenly mobile phone tracking will come into place. You've been tracked for years if you have a mobile phone.
          • More accurate data is better data, and data is currency when mobile is involved, no matter if you believe in NSA plots or if you believe it's all about advertisement.

            Of course Apple might be only in the process of refining the user experience. My optimum user experience would lie with a nokia n900-like fully programmable SDR with current hardware specs.

  • I was never an Apple Maps user, but I was always of the persuasion that the map data and the routing logic was the problem, not whether the GPS had a six-foot margin of error instead of a six inch margin of error. Without good routing logic and accurate street maps, all the accuracy in the world won't help with navigation.

    Then again, I'm still waiting for Delorme to release Street Atlas for Android.

    • by Wheely ( 2500 )

      I think the map data itself is fine. It works great on a TomTom

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I am a former Apple Zealot who has a sizable investment in AAPL... something that's I'd prefer not to lose :) So back in the day when the appl maps app came out I was very concerned. I happen to also travel alot, so I realized I needed to just test all of this out as "a sample set of one". I've been using Apple Maps exclusively since its release and I can tell you it is inordinately better than it was when it first came out. Up to date roads, routes, speed limits etc ( appl places where I witnessed error

    • I was never an Apple Maps user, but I was always of the persuasion that the map data and the routing logic was the problem, not whether the GPS had a six-foot margin of error instead of a six inch margin of error. Without good routing logic and accurate street maps, all the accuracy in the world won't help with navigation.

      Although more accuracy always helps, I think the point is not the increased accuracy, but the increased coverage. The first vendor to have reliable indoor positioning will get bags and bags of money. Just think of the navigation in large shopping malls and airports. The Iridium localisation may help in that. If not, a team that is able to mix Iridium into the positioning is also able to mix Apple beacons [wikipedia.org] into the positioning.

  • So instead of The Internet of Things [wikipedia.org], it'll be The Internet of Apple Things.

    Seems logical.
    (e.g. moving from platforms to ecosystems).

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