According to an article published yesterday by Reuters, Apple has acquired mapping application company WiFiSlam for “around $20 million.” An apple spokesman told Reuters that “Apple acquires smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” While that statement is 100%, how hard is to say that Apple may be making another attempt at a maps application? Their last attempt was a complete disaster, so much that Tim Cook himself recommended Google Maps.
What is WiFiSlam?
It appears that at one time WiFiSlam did have a website at www.wifislam.com, but it has since then been removed, probably due to the acquisition. We were however, able to find some information on company information site AngelList. WiFiSlam is listed as a product that allows your smartphone to pinpoint its location in real-time using only “WiFi signals that are already present in buildings.” If I’m interpreting that statement correctly, you in theory wouldn’t even need to be connected to WiFi for this application to pinpoint your location, but I could be wrong. Obviously this pinpointed location is most likely not longitude and latitude, but rather location information that would be tailored perfectly for indoor navigation, something that Google is working fast and furiously to deploy in large malls and museums.
If Apple were to jump back into mapping, indoor navigation would actually be the best place to start, because frankly it would be a huge source of revenue for whichever company can make it work the best, and so far Google’s system is still mostly in Beta. Large venues would be willing to pay a lot of money to have indoor navigation, and if they aren’t, the ad revenue potentials are possibly even greater.
Can Apple be successful at mapping? So far, they haven’t had any luck. However, if they get into indoor navigation soon and do it right, they might have a chance.