Why Apple's Map Problem Isn't Going Away Anytime Soon

Friday, 28 Sep 2012 | 5:47 PM ET
Apple Maps
Source: Apple.com
Apple Maps

If you are waiting for Apple to fix its map problem, don't hold your breath.

Apple cannot fix innaccuracies on its map system as quickly as some users would like because Apple doesn't actually control the map data, said Noam Bardin, CEO of the navigation app Waze.

"Apple does not own its own data. It has partnered with different partners around the world to actually build its map. So it's rate of change is dependent on its partners to update their maps," Bardin said on CNBC's Squawk on the Street Friday.

For example, Apple licenses its US map data from TomTom, a navigation company, so if Apple wants to update its map app, it must first convince TomTom to update their data and then TomTom needs to prioritize which areas get updated first, Bardin explained.

Another challenge for companies offering map data, like TomTom, is that they simply do not have the financial means to update their data as frequently or as broadly.

"These companies are not Google, they are not pouring a billion dollars a year into updating their data and they're not mapping the rest of the world," Bardin said.

Waze, however, owns its maps and allows users to update the maps themselves, which allows for much quicker updates on a much larger scale, he said. Barden likened the Waze model to how Wikipedia is built, which allows those in the community to contribute updates and content to the system.

Apple: Use Waze Map App
Noam Bardin, Waze CEO, explains why he believes his mobile navigation company will rival Google's within the next five years.

"By allowing users to do it, local people living in a neighborhood are solving problems that matter to them and that's why we can build a map that's global," Barden said. "We have users everywhere in the world. The map is global, but we can do it at a reasonable budget and we don't have to be Google to do that."

Bardin said it usually only takes about a few hours or a few days for changes to the Waze maps to be made so that all users can view them.

Apple CEO Tim Cook endorsed the Waze app as an alternative map source for iOS6 users in his apology letter, which was posted on the Apple Website Friday. But Bardin said his company's app, which is available on the iOS platform and Android platform, has seen a significant ramp up in usage since the release of Apple's iOS6 last week, which features the new mapping system.

Bardin said the endorsement is just a preview of what he thinks his company will accomplish.

"We believe that if you look about five years out, there are going to be two maps of the world. There is going to be Google and there is going to be Wazes," Bardin said. "There will be other maps, but in terms of the ability to update and the speed that these maps reflect the real world, we think it's going to be the two of us."

email: tech@cnbc.com

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