Archive for June 18th, 2012

Article from NYTimes.

Locating a tower in San Francisco using Apple’s Maps app.

For many people, phones have become an important way to navigate the world, and mobile maps are at the core of the journey. They are often the critical element in commerce, socializing and search. So far, Google has reigned supreme in the mobile map world, with its maps on every iPhone sold so far — and, of course, on every phone based on its own Android operating system.

Last week, though, Apple gave notice it would enter the battle, announcing that in the fall, its phones would no longer carry Google maps, but instead would have Apple’s own map service built in, part of its new mobile operating system. Maps are simply too important to be left to a rival.

The question is: Can Apple build a map service that does as good a job, or a better one, than Google has?

If Apple slips up, consumers in the highly competitive smartphone market may have a good reason to turn to Android phones. If Apple succeeds, Google will be under pressure at a time when it already has to deal with other competitors in map services.

“It makes Apple more valuable and denies Google a lot of user data, and a brand presence, on the iPhone,” said Ben Bajarin, an analyst with the technology research firm Creative Strategies. If Apple cannot meet or exceed Google’s maps, he added, “it will irk their power users,” who are the most valuable customers.

Apple’s move into maps was not exactly a surprise. It has bought a few companies that make mapping features, like three-dimensional visualizations, and has secured rights to data like the names and layouts of streets in over 100 countries from TomTom, a big digital map company based in the Netherlands.

But making digital maps is not easy. Google has spent years working on its services, pouring all kinds of resources into the effort, including its Street View project to photograph and map the world. It will be hard to duplicate that depth and breadth.

“Apple has gotten into a place that is very technical, quite a challenge, and like nothing they’ve done before,” said Noam Bardin, chief executive of Waze, a mapping service that provides real-time traffic information by tracking the movement of phones.

Still, it would be foolish to underestimate Apple, said John Musser, editor of ProgrammableWeb, an online service that follows mobile application development.

“Apple so far has close to nothing in maps, because they never had a product before,” Mr. Musser said. “But they are hardly empty-handed.”

Mapping technology is a growing field that draws on everything from aerial photography to the movement of the continents, to individual comments on Web sites about a favorite hiking trail or a bad dining experience. ProgrammableWeb counts 240 mapping-related services that people building mobile map applications can draw from. That is up 73 percent from a year ago, and 243 percent from 2009.

Apple has offered few details about its plans for the map service, which is part of the new operating system, iOS 6, that was unveiled at the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco. Some of the features may come from companies that it now owns. Apple may buy other features — like store locations and hours, and information about walking paths, landmarks and public transportation — from data companies, independent developers and consumer information services like Yelp.

Apple can expect to pay a lot of money for this information. Google declined to comment on what it spends on its map business, but others in the industry estimate that the figure is $500 million to perhaps $1 billion annually, equal to a fifth of its budget for research and development.

For consumers, an important part of the Apple service is likely to be the apps that support and enhance it. This week, Apple is set to widely release its instructions, known as a software development kit, to guide developers in designing these apps.

Those instructions are important to hundreds of independent software developers like Scott Rafer, whose start-up is making user-friendly walking directions for maps, based on things like landmarks and street views. He hopes to produce an app that is a hit in the app store, or even wins Apple’s eye as it looks for more partners.

“We’re all trying to figure out the next 100 days” before Apple releases the operating system to consumers, Mr. Rafer said. “Does Apple want gorgeous features, or do they want ubiquity?”

Read more here.

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Happiness is an Unexpected Hug

20 plus  years ago I was Coach of the  Under 16 and then Under 18 Boys Select Soccer team in Ross Valley, CA.  I had young men on the team from the US, France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Africa and Korea and the Caribbean.

In the 1993-1994 season, “the Raiders Football Club” had games on weekends for 4 months plus and the players also participated in 2 times a week High School soccer for their teams.   This was a special group, diverse in culture and socio-economic status and going through the challenges of being High School Juniors and Seniors.  All were maturing and experiencing the pressures of peers and society.

During this time, the Raiders Football Club became the Champions of their league and were ranked #4 in the State of California, Under 18 group.  They became a “family” during this Championship Season.

At our end of season celebration, I wondered aloud and also asked, that when I see my players 20 years from now, I expect a “hug” and will they remember to give me a “hug”.   I shared with them that as we all go through “life”, there are very few times that one can be a “Champion” and although early in age, they remember this season and this time, as no one can ever take it away from them.

This past weekend, along with previous times, I saw two of my players at a wedding.  As we saw each other, both came up to me, gave me a “hug” and said thank you and I always remember my team and those years.

I take pride that these young men were able to experience and earn “respect” on the field of battle.  Although not as skilled as most of the teams, they were tenacious, competitive and learned about what it means to be a “team”.

Along with my adult son, who still gives his Dad hugs and kisses, it is very rewarding and provides a sense of satisfaction that these young men remember to give you that “hug”.

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