For the past few years, Apple has been hammering away at building its own mapping platform to shake the yoke of Google Maps. It just took another step toward assembling its cartographic Frankenstein’s monster by buying up C3 Technologies, which assembles hyper-realistic 3D maps and integrates them with more traditional 2D maps and photos.
C3 creates insanely detailed maps that are accurate to within 15cm, and has really nifty flyover views, which are sort of like a Hulked-up version of Google’s recent rollout, Helicopter view. It was actually sold almost three months ago, but at the time the buyer was a mystery. Folks had already been guessing it was Apple, but now we know.
C3 Technologies is the third mapping company Apple’s picked up in as many years. In 2009, it bought Placebase, which specialised in customisation and layering information on maps. Then last year it bought Poly9, a Google Earth-like project.
Apple has a history of only buying companies that it fully intends to use. The obvious example is its purchase of Siri last year, which is now one of the key features of the new iPhone 4S. But also look at its purchase of P.A. Semi in 2008, which spawned the A4 and A5 chips that have powered the last few generations of iOS devices. There’s a plan here.
Between the three mapping companies and the crowd-sourced traffic service we know Apple’s working on, it sure looks like they’re readying to make war with Google Maps with a patchwork mapping golem of its own.