NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL - Get Report) suffered a serious public relations hit when its Apple Maps product was unveiled to the world. Its latest purchase may be about changing that perception, even if it comes six months later.
Over the weekend, Apple acquired WiFiSLAM, a indoor-GPS company. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple paid around $20 million for the company, but the impact could be far greater as it pertains to Apple Maps.
When it was released, Apple Maps didn't live up to the standards of Apple. The negative outrage from the public ultimately forced CEO Tim Cook to
apologize, saying Apple would keep working to improve the product. Cook went so far as to recommend other products, including
(GOOG - Get Report) and
(NOK - Get Report) offerings, while Apple worked on improving its own product.
Though the product wasn't atrocious by any means, it certainly did not live up to the standards of other mapping products, such as Google Maps, the aforementioned Nokia, or other popular mapping software. Apple had egg on its face, especially as it made a point to remove Google Maps from its latest mobile operating system, iOS 6. The public gaffe may have ultimately led to the departure from the company of Scott Forstall, who reportedly refused to sign the apology letter along with Cook.While Apple wouldn't discuss its plans for WiFiSlam, there are a few facts known about the company which could hint that Apple is really serious about improving Maps. The Silicon Valley-based start-up has developed a way for mobile apps to know a user's location inside a building using Wi-Fi. This will allow maps and location sharing services to more accurately portray positions of businesses, people, etc., especially as it pertains to being inside a building. If accuracy is improved using the company's technology, that would make Apple's data that much more reliable and perhaps change the perception that Apple Maps is inferior to other mapping solutions.
People are increasingly (right or wrong, you decide) turning to mapping solutions, such as GPS locators, and apps to help them navigate their travels. A technology that increases the accuracy of GPS data, especially in hard to navigate areas such as inside a building, is invaluable.