Apple buysToronto crowdsourced mapping firm Locationary

In a bid to improve its Maps service, Apple Inc. has once more set a path for Canada and purchased Toronto-based crowdsourced mapping startup Locationary.

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

This is not the first time Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has purchased a Canadian mapping company. Back in 2010, the iPhone maker snapped up another Canadian online mapping company, Poly9 which is based in Quebec. A more recent mapping service acquisition by Apple involved California-based mapping startup WiFISLAM in March this year.

Locationary, is sometimes referred to as the “Wikipedia for companies.” The firm relies on game mechanics and crowdsourcing to develop its database of company locations, business information that is widely considered more accurate and up-to-date than most mapping services.
Apple Maps

Apart from providing location-based apps for Web and mobile application publishers and business Locationary uses its Saturn data management and exchange platform to also offer data management services and distribution services for organizations that want to push real-time data to their customers.

Apple will likely incorporate Locationary’s massive database of business locations into its own Apple Maps service. Maps has been derided by critics and users and replete with bugs and errors. This is of course a common complaint with other mapping services including Google Maps and Yelp which sometimes provide incorrect information.


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The problem is largely due to outdated and inaccurate data obtained by the services.

Locationary’s answer to this problem is to link business listings services and major locations into a database. The company also offers incentives for users to update listings with the most recent and accurate information. It even pays users to get location data from different services including Foursquare, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)and Yelp.

Last September Locationary founder and chief executive officer Grant Ritchie, wrote an article on the technology publication TechCrunch outline five map application issues which he thought were imperative for Apple to solve in order to compete with Google Inc.’s service.

The issues were:

  • Aggregating location data – Apple might want to license third-party location sources in addition to curating its own data
  • Aggregating vertical business data – Apple needs to specialize in database on specific vertical
  • Standardizing data – Apple needs to process data into a common format for its team to analyze and integrate it
  • POI profiles – Once data sources are standardized, Apple needs to create a composite profile for each point-of-interest
  • Merging data sources – In order to provide informatio that people can use in an app, Apple needs to merge various data into a composite database

Almost a year after Ritchie penned his article, Apple had decided to buy his company


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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