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Surprisingly, Google Maps doesn’t rank in the top 10 most-used apps. Yet, Baird Equity Research still estimates that Google Maps could deliver $5 billion of the company’s incremental revenues by 2020 if they really got serious about monetizing. My guess is that if Baird speculated on the value of Apple Maps, that revenue number wouldn’t even reach a billion.

If you’re not an iPhone user, then you may not understand how awful Apple Maps has been since its inception in 2012. Especially in comparison to Google Maps. And especially when iPhones often default to this lesser Map App when starting a new navigation.

But 2019 marks the year that Apple has finally decided to upgrade their map app. Are they gunning for Google’s position?

The “New” Apple Maps

The enhanced version of Apple Maps is one of iOs13’s hidden gems. After iOs13 launched, Apple Maps’ new version expanded to New York and the northeastern part of the US. The company plans to release revamped Apple Maps to the rest of the US by the end of 2019 and globally by 2020.

Namrata Sen Chanda, Market Realist

Honestly, the “new” features are old. They merely added what we’ve come to expect from a map app – accurate addresses, landmarks, and 3D street view of a location.

I tried the new features and Apple Maps is still very underwhelming. Realistically, Apple stands no chance in the consumer navigation game. Google Maps is an absolute god there.

So what’s Apple’s angle?

Yes, Apple will benefit from having an app that comes close to parallelling Google’s quality. We’ll see better exercise navigation for the estimated 40 million Apple Watch users.

But the large reason for better maps is Apple’s not-so-secret, secret project – Project Titan. Their autonomous vehicle concept.

According to Kuo [reliable Apple insider], Apple will launch an Apple Car sometime between 2023 and 2025, with the car set to be positioned as “the next star product.”

MacRumors

One, autonomous vehicles require extremely precise mapping data. Two, Apple doesn’t want to lease this data from a third-party. Imagine Apple creating their own autonomous car that relies on Google to get around? Uber had to lease their maps from Google and that was costly. They’ve since poured $500 million into creating their own.

We can only speculate this is a major reason for Apple’s work in digital maps. Because honestly, the Apple Car will probably be something we can’t even imagine now.

Next in Digital Maps

On a related note, Digital Mapping is far from finished.

Every day, more than 150 million digital maps are created – from mapping Ebola outbreaks to visualizing how poverty is distributed. Location-based data tells the story of humans and how we exist in our environments. It brings color to the relationship between man and environment.

We create more than 150 million digital maps daily… Yet, you only use Google Maps

There are many, many reasons to create digital maps. Some reasons more internal to a company’s strategy than they are consumer-facing. Still, the next great battle in digital maps will happen in your living room:

John Hanke [Founder of Google Earth and Niantic Labs, the creator of Pokemon Go] is interested in what he calls “human-scale mapping of the pedestrian world” – all the indoor, private spaces you can’t see on Google Earth right now. These are the maps that are going to be necessary to support a future dominated by augmented reality – one Hanke believes will be dominated by augmented reality glasses.

Katharine Schwab, Fast Company

Mapping the indoor will look nothing like the digital maps we consume today. And Google won’t be a shoe-in winner, either. Look at how poorly Garmin and Tom Tom were at transitioning their standalone GPS into the app and smartphone ecosystem. Where are those companies today?

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