Apple Maps Gets a Boost (Update 1)

Updated from 9:11 a.m. EST to provide more analysis in the fifth paragraph.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Perhaps Apple ( AAPL) wasn't so dumbnot to buy Waze. It appears that the Cupertino, Calif. maker of the iPhone had an alternative, potentially cheaper idea in mind to improve its Maps app.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling confirmed to AllThingsD that Apple has acquired Toronto-based Locationary to help build out its Maps app, an offering that has long trailed Google for quality and precision.

With the acquisition of Locationary, Apple appears to be getting serious about wanting to improve Maps and make good CEO Tim Cook's promise apology last year to improve the application. "Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world," Cook said in what amounted to an apology for the the app's sub-par performance. "We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard."

When Google announced the deal for Waze, I was critical of Apple for not spending the $1.1 billion plus it would've taken to close the deal. Apple has more than enough cash on hand to fund the deal, and it could've changed the perception that Apple is serious about changing Maps for the better. Locationary may not be the final solution to making Apple Maps as good as it should be, but from the looks of it, it's certainly an improvement.

I would expect more tuck-in acquisitions like this in the future from Apple, as it continues to build out Maps. Apple recently acquired WiFiSLAM. Prior to the unveiling of Apple Maps in 2012, Apple acquired Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies. It's been rumored that Apple would look at Foursquare to continue building it out, but so far, no deal has been consummated.

A look at Locationary's website details how the company can help Apple get its mapping application up to snuff, and continue to compete with Google ( GOOG) in this arena. Locationary, via its Saturn technology, is "unique in that it uses a revolutionary real-time blending technology that can merge data from multiple sources as quickly as you can download it." If that doesn't scream help for Maps, nothing does.

Locationary has created a neutral platform that allows users to continuously merge and blend data from a variety of sources, and come up with the highest quality outcome. It sounds very similar to Waze, in that people are continuously updating the platform, only the price tag was most likely cheaper, and it's a platform to keep updating and getting better data. Apple did not disclose the price of the deal.

The potential for Locationary is huge. The company notes it has 5.61 billion data fields, with 175 million profiles and 253 feeds and repositories. That's a serious amount of data, and should drastically improve the location whereabouts of restaurants, businesses, and other shops on Apple Maps.

While Apple may not make money from Maps, it's clear that Apple is serious about drastically improving its software and services. It also shows that Apple is serious about changing the perception of its software and services, particularly its mobile apps, which have been seen as lacking in the past.

Cook has said in the past that Apple is not simply a hardware company. He's also talked about how Apple has great products, software and services coming, and Apple Maps is one of Apple's services.

Apple's decision not to include Google Maps in iOS 6 was a blunder, though Google Maps has since come back to iOS in the form of an app from the App Store. Google continues to dominate this space, and its recent acquisition of Waze only helps solidify this position. However, it's clear that Apple is not just going to sit back and watch Google extend its lead. It's going to fight back, and hard, and Locationary is going to help.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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