If I were in Google's shoes, I wouldn't be launching a native Maps app. Period.
It's not like Maps is driving vast amounts of search revenue for Google. And with the degraded functionality of Apple's own Maps app, Google's Map app has become a reason for a buyer to consider switching to a Google-blessed Android phone.
And I say this as a long-time iPhone user - Maps was an important application for me. Now that it's become less functional, I'm going to actively look at Android and WP.
Everything they collect through maps can eventually be used to enhance their advertising offerings.
So maybe Maps isn't driving a lot of revenue right now but it's definitely one of Google's most ambitious data collection projects.
There's some value in the aggregate information from all users in improving the service, but the law of diminishing returns will be reached quickly. Losing even half the mobile maps usage would have basically no impact in the ability of Google to deduce things from the data. There might be a few exceptions like real-time traffic information where every data point is precious.
I don't think Google's going to get very evil, at least not overnight. They have the infrastructure to collect all this data, the resources to store it, and the technology to make sense of it. They're already at the point where their business regularly butts against social norms regarding privacy.
Ultimately I find advertising an extremely unpleasant (if not inherently evil) phenomenon. At the highest levels it's nearly the science of manipulating unwilling people. Advertising companies, especially nebulous yet megalomaniacal tech companies with access to the best behavioral datasets possible, should be treated as highly suspect.
> If I were in Google's shoes, I wouldn't be launching
> a native Maps app. Period.
Loosing iOS users for some barely noticeable amount of switchers is hardly a good business for Google—do they even make money from Android phones someone sells? I heard Microsoft makes more money than Google does.
Their goal isn't to make money on the devices, so that's a little like comparing the margins on a Kindle Fire to the margins on an iPad.
I'm... not sure how to parse that sentence. I guess it's implying I have a non-trivial amount of stupidity, which probably explains my parsing problem.
Transit routing is a hard problem to scale - Apple has taken a shortcut and pushed it off to 3rd party developers, who can tackle the much more approachable problem of solving it on a city-by-city basis. Which make sense... but this is still a large regression as far as users are concerned. And doesn't help folks that live in smaller cities.
Yes, Apple is probably working on this. But now we come to an odd signalling issue - Apple has basically told 3rd parties that it is worth their time investing in this area. If-and-when Apple opts to plug this functionality hole, they've pulling the rug out from under these developers. And any app developer worth his salt has to be factoring that.
And I'd be really surprised if Apple steps in any sooner than the next iOS refresh - fixing transit seems like a wonderful bullet point for iOS7.
"Loosing iOS users for some barely noticeable amount of switchers is hardly a good business for Google [...]"
Err... what are they losing, exactly? Users aren't inherently valuable. If there's value these iOS users add to Google, I'd love to hear it.
Google is already generating local search and behavioral data via their large Android install base. Beyond brand visibility (which is going to be reduced, thanks to Apple's own offering), what does releasing their own native app get them? A native version that, again I want to emphasis, Apple is actively competing against their own product. Whatever Google releases, it is now going to be a 2nd class citizen, without the OS-level hooks Apple's own solution gets. And this assumes that Apple even lets them release an app. This wouldn't be the first time Apple has blocked Google from releasing an application on iOS because it duplicates existing 1st party functionality.
Basically - why should Google release their own app?
"—do they even make money from Android phones someone sells? I heard Microsoft makes more money than Google does."
I don't think I can adaquately address this in a response to a comment. Google is not a charity, and Android does add to Google's bottom-line.
In closing - I'd fucking love it if Google released a native Maps app. I'm an iPhone user that's gotten bit by this, and am sticking with iOS5 for now. But I'm not going to hold my breathe waiting. Particularly when I don't see a compelling reason for Google to save me.
They don't care so much about people using Android as they care about people using Google products - because then they can collect more data.
Of course if people are on Android the risk is a bit smaller that Google search and maps will be swapped away under their feet.