In acquiring startup WiFiSlam for a reported $20 million, Apple is now joining Google and Microsoft in the indoor mapping ring.
Apple has confirmed the deal to the BBC, although declining comment on the purpose of the acquisition or future plans for the company. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the purchase was made for $20 million, citing an unnamed source.
It’s no secret that Apple has experienced issues with its mapping app in the past, so the acquistion of WiFiSLAM seems logical, anyway. According to the startup’s AngelList profile, WiFiSlam is creating “the next generation of location-based mobile apps.”
WiFiSlam focuses on indoor GPS, which analysts say is the next big battleground for mapping services. WiFiSlam claims that its service can pinpoint locations within 2.5 meters of accuracy.
It is likely Apple will leverage this technology to develop a dedicated indoor mapping app to compete with those of Google and Microsoft.
Google has reportedly invested in indoor GPS technology by accepting over 10,000 floor plans from business to integrate into an app, while Microsoft’s Bing maps have over 3,000 indoor locations and Nokia’s Destination Maps have more than 4,000 locations.
Apple could use the indoor GPS technology for targeted advertising in malls, to help users find their gates at an airport or to conduct guided tours of museums or other indoor attractions, for example.