Apple has acquired a Silicon Valley-based startup, indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, which makes mapping applications for smartphones for around $20 million. WifiSLAM was founded by a former Google engineering intern Joseph Huang. It’s not really clear what Apple wants with WifiSlam?
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.
An Apple spokesman confirmed the deal saying the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time” and generally doesn’t discuss its plans. He declined to comment further. WifiSLAM could not immediately be reached for comment.
The acquisition of the start-up comes as Apple attempts to catch up with Internet search firm Google Inc. in mapping, the report said, noting that Google offers indoor mobile maps of shopping malls and airports for Android phones but not for Apple iPhone users.
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.”
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.”