Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Apple kicks Google Maps off the iPhone... bundles its own Maps... Wait a minute!

I just read that Apple has kicked Google Maps off iPhone in favor of an Apple-designed alternative built into the new software for mobile devices, iOS 6, which will be released this fall. Those who want to continue using Google Maps will have to go through additional hurdle, such as finding and installing its app.

Wait just a $%#&#@ minute!

Does anyone remember United States v. Microsoft? As a reminder for those who don't, it was a set of civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation pursuant to the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 Sections 1 and 2 on May 18, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and 20 states. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power on Intel-based personal computers in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft's victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer. It was further alleged that this restricted the market for competing web browsers such as Netscape Navigator or Opera that had to be downloaded separately or had to be purchased at a store.

Isn't Apple behaving similar to how Microsoft acted years ago in an attempt to win the browser wars? Only in this case, the "war" isn't really over mapping software; it's really about market share in the lucrative smartphone market - Apple's iPhone Vs smartphones based on Google's Android software. 

It's no secret that Apple and Google are locked in a fight for the attention of hundreds of millions of mobile device users. The battle has been building since Google's 2008 release of its Android operating system to compete against the iPhone. Android smartphones from companies such as Samsung and Google's own Motorola division are currently the chief alternatives to the iPhone. Not surprisingly, Apple has sued those manufacturers, accusing them of ripping off the iPhone's ground-breaking features (see my blog post titled Apple's "Legal Side of Innovation"). Google's Maps application has resided on the iPhone since the device's 2007 debut. In fact, at the time, the companies were so close that Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs appeared on stage together to hail their kinship. But Android has deeply soured the relationship to the point where before he died last October, Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he viewed Android as a form of "grand theft" from Apple and declared "thermonuclear war" against his former ally. 

Well, the war is definitely on!

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