Apple (AAPL) has acquired social maps application Spotsetter to address its problematic maps application. In an attempt to differentiate itself from the competition, Spotsetter was designed to provide personalized destination recommendations for its users. This is accomplished by linking your social media accounts to Spotsetter's mapping service (i.e. via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). According to Spotsetter’s online blog post, founder Johnny Lee announced that the application will be shutting down immediately so that Apple can integrate Spotsetter’s features into its native maps application, thus furthering its capabilities.
The purpose of Apple’s acquisition of Spotsetter, a member of Apple’s recent shopping spree, is to compete with Google’s more popular iOS maps app. Apple and Google (GOOG) ended their navigation partnership in 2012; soon after, Tim Cook hastily announced the native iPhone maps app, and then issued an apology for its many problems. Google then released its iOS application in the App Store, which became the most downloaded app at the time.
There is speculation that Apple purchased Spotsetter not for its technology, but for its executives. Spotsetter’s founders, Stephen Tse and Johnny Lee worked as Google engineers and Siemens consultants, respectively. Although Apple has not yet confirmed the Spotsetter acquisition, both Tse and Lee have changed their LinkedIn (LNKD) profiles to show Apple as their current employer. The experience that they bring to Apple greatly increases the credibility of Apple’s maps department.
Apple aims to integrate the Spotsetter service into its maps application along with other services they purchased, such as WiFiSlam, Locationary, Embark, HopStop, and Broadmap. Although Apple’s application has received a lot of harsh criticism in the past, with its new talent, the company is well positioned to top Google as the premier iOS navigation application on the market.