Screen shot 2009 10 02 at 23.16.29 Google spamming iPhone Maps with ads?The Maps app on the iPhone is arguably the most elegant mobile navigation solution available right now. Although supplied by Google, it manages to achieve the Apple ideal of “just working”. That elegance now appears to have been sullied by the appearance of Sponsored Links.

Search Engine Land has uncovered the links, which highlight businesses that have paid for the priviledge in the same way the Sponored Links in Google search results do.

Without knowing the particulars of Google’s deal with Apple over the Maps app it’s difficult to know whether these ads are a problem for Apple. Is Apple getting a cut? We just don’t know.

There’s certainly been much speculation over the future of Google’s iPhone Maps app after it emerged this week that Apple bought mapping company Placebase in July. Throw in the dispute between Google and Apple over the as-yet unavailable Google Voice app and you have a situation packed with firecrackers waiting to go off.

Will we see an Apple own-brand mapping solution in the iPhone’s 4.0 firmware? Given the evidence, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising.