Electronics giant Apple is expected to announce that it will abandon Google Maps in favor of its own location software at the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to be held this week in San Francisco. Some experts are also predicting that Apple may ditch Google's search engine in China and replace it with Baidu, the country's top internet search provider.
According to various sources, Apple has been planning for some time to replace rival Google's blockbuster map service as the default mapping application on its popular devices, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
This has not come as a surprise for many industry insiders — the world's largest technology company by revenue and profit has been buying mapping companies since 2009. It is said that Apple's new in-house maps app will be unveiled alongside the newest version of its operating system, iOS6, during the conference's keynote address on Monday.
Apple and Google have been collaborating on maps since 2006, even before the release of the first-generation iPhone. Google Maps helped Apple's iPhone become wildly successful as it enabled users to find businesses, check traffic conditions and obtain directions on their handheld devices. Apple's products have in turn driven gobs of web traffic to Google services.
Sources say the rapid rise of Google's Android mobile operating system has sped up Apple's plans to introduce its own map service, which, according to supposed leaked photos, will offer 3D views. The new mapping app will enable Apple to gain additional advertising revenue, and will more importantly remove its biggest rival's mapping service from its devices.
In response, Google recently announced upgrades to Google Maps and Google Earth, including a new 3D function. The internet search juggernaut also declared that devices running Android will soon have access to Google Maps whether or not internet access is available.
Industry experts in China claim that Apple may replace Google as the default search engine on its devices with Baidu, a domestic firm that dominates the Chinese market. The move is supposedly aimed at further reducing Apple's reliance on Google while also expanding its presence in the Chinese market. Chinese commentators claim that the economic impact of such a change would be worse for Google than the expected ousting of Google Maps.