Finally, Apple Inc. (AAPL - Analyst Report) seems to have taken the mapping business seriously. Reportedly, Apple recently acquired Embark, which offers mass transit information of selected cities in Europe and the U.S. However, the financials associated with the deal were not disclosed.
The current deal follows back-to-back acquisitions of HopStop.com Inc. and Locationary Inc.in Jul 2013. These were preceded by the takeover of WiFiSLAM, a provider of indoor mapping application technology earlier this year.
Traditionally, Apple had been using Google maps in its iOS-based devices. The company had been eyeing the market for a long time and bought C3 Technologies (Aug 2011), Poly9 (Jul, 2010) and Place base (Sep 2009) to strengthen its service.
Apple’s aggressive push into the mapping business is also evident from the fact that it is continuously hiring mapping experts to its current talent pool.
Although Apple released its mapping application with iPhone 5 in 2012, the botched up service received a fair bit of criticism, primarily due to inaccurate data. Since then, Apple has been focusing on improving the service and these acquisitions will significantly help it in this regard.
Moreover, it would help the company to compete with Google’s mapping service, which continues to dominate the market segment to date. To maintain the lead in the mapping services market, Google recently acquired Waze Inc.
However, at a time when Apple is facing tough competition from Google, Blackberry (BBRY - Analyst Report), Samsungand Nokia Corp. (NOK - Analyst Report), we believe the company needs to innovate to outsmart its competitors.
In this regard, we note that Apple has a knack for acquiring small start-up technology companies that can be synergized with its current product portfolio. Moreover, these acquisitions enable Apple to deliver ready-made solutions and technological know-how for specific problems. We believe that this acquisition policy would benefit the company over the long run.
Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).