Coca Cola once fixed what wasn’t broken and changed its formula. Lots of people hated it. Now, Apple’s “New Coke” moment is coming to an end. People who don’t like the Apple maps that came with the new iPhone–quite a few–can finally go back to Google Maps, which seem to do a better job getting you where you’re going. The iPad version is also here soon. But the map battles are not over. In 2004, Steve Coast founded Open Street Map–an outfit that creates maps from information contributed by users and makes the results available for free.
“In the same way that you wouldn’t buy an encyclopedia anymore in the future you won’t typically pay for a map,” Coast says. “Today you are paying for a map but it is in indirect ways. You are viewing advertising on the map or you are using it as part of some consumer service or something like that. But maps will just be so readily available that they won’t have those kinds of ties if you don’t want them to.”
Open Street encourages mapping parties where groups go out on scavenger hunts to fill in map data.
Amid the moping over its maps, don’t shed too many tears for Apple. By one calculation, the company has more than $150 billion in cash rattling around its pockets, both in the U.S. and overseas. The late Steve Jobs liked to save for a rainy day, but as this is the holiday season, what if Apple went holiday shopping? There is, for instance, persistent babble that it might want to purchase social media giant Facebook. If not, what else?
“There certainly are things that Apple could use,” says Adam Lashinsky, a senior editor at Fortune. “Although Apple is far and away the best consumer device company in the world, Apple isn’t really good at the internet. They don’t really understand social media.”
Like what? “People have speculated more about Twitter than Facebook because it is so much less expensive,” Lashinsky says. “But Apple also recognizes that payments are going to become extremely important going forward. So you think about a company like PayPal which is part of EBay or a smaller one like Square that might be very attractive. When it does go shopping, it tends to buy companies with intellectual property or a handful of people that are really good at something as opposed to a company that really dominating a particular category or has revenues.”
This is in part because culture is almost everything at Apple.
Lashinsky, who is also author of the book “Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired–and Secretive–Company Really Works” said the company is “terrified” about using those billions of dollars to buy a big company that they would then have to integrate those people who aren’t from Apple’s culture.
Perhaps Apple needs to think more creatively if it has this estimated $150 billion rattling around. It turns out with that kind of money, Apple could buy a free iPad for 390 million people. By comparison, there are only 311 million in the entire United States.
Lashinsky pointed out that Apple already has the U.S. covered. Instead, he jokingly said Apple might use the strategy to get into all the countries in the world they still don’t have a deep penetration.
May we suggest revolutionizing education by handing out a quadrillion iPads.
“Now you are thinking altruistically,” Lashinsky said. “But the way Apple would think about that is give one iPad to everybody in the rest of the world because nine months from now they’re going to want to buy another one.”
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