Facebook (FB - Free Report) has acquired mapping technology provider Mapillary, per latter’s blog. The deal enables the social media giant to access the Swedish company’s trove of street-view maps and imagery data.
Mapillary, similar to Apple (AAPL - Free Report) and Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) -division Google, provides maps that show road signs, addresses and other information around a locality.
However, instead of sending a fleet of camera and sensor-fitted vehicles like the aforementioned tech giants, Mapillary relies on crowdsourced (tens of thousands of contributors) images on its platform. The company’s software extracts and analyzes data from the uploaded images.
Mapillary’s maps are useful in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) applications. They are also needed to improve navigational abilities of self-driving vehicles as well as support drones and robots for contactless delivery of goods.
Notably, the maps will power Facebook Marketplace that drives transactions for millions of small businesses. Moreover, the acquisition will support Facebook’s endeavors to build AR glasses as well as VR headsets. The company offers VR products through its Oculus division.
Markedly, AR/VR is a space that is witnessing heightened competition with a number of initiatives from Alphabet, Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) , Apple and Snapchat-parent Snap (SNAP - Free Report) .
Mapillary will be part of Facebook’s broader open mapping initiative. Notably, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company offers a service called Map With AI, which with the support of AI, helps in road-mapping. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Google Dominates Map Space
Facebook’s Mapillary deal undoubtedly intensifies competition in the mapping space currently dominated by Google. Apple, Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) and NVIDIA (NVDA - Free Report) thanks to its partnership with HERE, are other notable players in the space.
Google’s dominant position can be attributed to its expertise in infusing AI into maps. The company frequently updates its map application and offers eye-catching features. In February, Google released a new updated app that focused on five categories, Explore, Commute, Saved, Contribution and Updates.
Moreover, the company has put more emphasis on user-generated content and recommendations. Notably, Google came up with its crowdedness predictions feature last year. With this, it is easier for Google Map users to share information related to their transit lines. Notably, crowdedness predictions provide information about how crowded a bus, train or subway is likely to be.
This helps people in making decisions regarding whether to take the ride or wait for the next in order to avoid the crowd, an important feature amid the coronavirus outbreak.
In fact, Google-parent Alphabet, which also carries a Zacks Rank #3, has taken a number of initiatives to fight the spread of the virus. The company recently updated Google Maps with COVID-19 alerts and advanced features. Additionally, the recently-introduced insights like temperature, accessibility and security onboard have been made available globally.
These benefits are likely to deliver enhanced user experience, which in turn will bolster the adoption of Google Maps.
Apple Gets Boost From Maps Redesign
Early this year, Apple completed the rollout of its redesigned Apple Maps in the United States. The updated app doesn’t require sign-in and is not connected to an Apple ID. Moreover, the redesigned app offers improved navigation and better road coverage.
Through the new Look Around feature, Apple offers interactive street-level imagery with high-resolution, 3D photography. The feature is much similar to Google’s Street View.
Initially rolled out in the New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston and Oahu, Apple extended the Look Around feature to Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.
Moreover, it’s Nearby feature, which helps an user search for a wide range of services close to his/her current location, has been extended to an additional 31 countries, including India.
Further, Apple has teamed up with Google to fight coronavirus through a contact-tracing app. The iPhone maker, which carries a Zacks Rank #3, announced a new set of tools that will allow mobile devices to trade information via Bluetooth connections to alert people when they are in close proximity with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Moreover, Apple Maps are helping iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac users search for coronavirus testing centers. In April, Apple made its mobility trends data available, supported by Apple Maps in order to provide local authorities more insight that would help them prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Additionally, per 9TO5Mac report, Apple recently updated Apple Maps with real-time transit information now available for a number of U.S. cities and States, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, majority of the U.K. (excluding Northern Ireland) and selected cities
Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2020
In addition to the stocks discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 finest buy-and-hold tickers for the entirety of 2020?
Last year's 2019 Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolio returned gains as high as +102.7%. Now a brand-new portfolio has been handpicked from over 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank. Don’t miss your chance to get in on these long-term buys.
Access Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2020 today >>