Apple has reportedly acquired Locationary, a Toronto-based crowdsourced data company specializing in local business data and locations, for an undisclosed amount.
AllThingsD reports that the deal closed “recently” and covers both the Locationary team and its underlying technology, which helps firms analyze and centralize multiple datasets about local businesses and their location through its Saturn service.
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Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling is said to have all but confirmed the deal, although the statement issued contains plenty of ambiguity: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
The motive behind the acquisition is unknown at this point, although Apple’s own navigation app, called simply ‘Maps’ on iOS, seems an obvious focus.
Apple received a lot of criticism when it released its own Maps app as part of iOS 6, due to a lack of local results, some peculiar satellite imagery and poor navigation accuracy. Some of these issues have been fixed in the last 10 months or so, but the app still struggles to compete with the iOS variant of Google Maps in the App Store.
Apple filed a patent application earlier this month which pointed to a new or updated service that would offer turn-by-turn directions based on crowd-sourced traffic data.
The interface and process detailed was remarkably similar to Waze, a community based mapping, traffic and navigation app that was acquired by Google in June this year.
With the public release of iOS 7 in the not so distant future, Apple would be wise to improve its Maps service and give it some additional functionality to coincide with its refreshed mobile operating system.
TNW has reached out to both Apple and Locationary to confirm the acquisition and will update this post if and when they respond.
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