Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has bought WifiSLAM, which is a company providing indoor mobile location services. The service will allow users to find out a location inside a building using the magnitude of its Wi-Fi signals.
Indoor mobile location is a mushrooming field as the users are increasingly using their Smartphones within buildings to find out their exact location and also the map of their surroundings. The two Finnish companies, Walkbase and Indoor Atlas offer their own system to find out the exact location.
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has confirmed the news and did not comment on the $20 million price tag. It said that it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time.”
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), through this deal plans to build potential competition against Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) in mapping. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) started its very own mapping services but was thrashed by users and experts alike for inaccurate data. Tim Cook, Apple Chief expressed regret over the issue and since then Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has tried to improve its service. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) already offers this service in certain locations like airport, shopping centers and sports venues.
Loo Wee Teck, Euro monitor’s global head of consumer electronics research said that by acquiring WifiSLAM, Apple will only carve its place for mapping services beside Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). He said that the competition depends upon the operating system on which the services are available, and in that case Android has more users than Apple worldwide.
According to an investor site AngelList there are some investors including Don Dodge of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) who have put their money in WifiSLAM and the amount is unknown.
WifiSLAM uses the variation in different networks’ Wi-Fi signal strengths to triangulate the user’s location. The Finnish company Walkbase has worked on its design since 2009 and at present offers this service in Android App form. The other company Indoor Atlas uses variations in the earth’s signal to zero in on the user’s location, which implies that it does not depend upon Wi-Fi or other data and does not need hardware.
Ajay Singh, ICT Practice senior director at Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific said that the indoor mapping will help the retailers and hospitality sector with new opportunities. For instance, a customer through this service can track that how many tables are available in a Restaurant or how many tables are finishing their food.
Indoor mapping is the next battleground for mapping technology. The market leader Google has more than 10,000 floor plans from businesses who want to be featured. The service for search giants also uses data from nearby wifi hotspots and signal towers to pinpoint location, which is more accurate than satellite positioning.
Wifislam’s technology, according to its website, uses smartphones to “pinpoint its location (and the location of your friends) in real-time to 2.5m accuracy using only ambient WiFi signals that are already present in buildings”.
Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) already offers its users Destination maps, indoor mapping services. At present Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) needs to do every bit to improve its mapping service as it dumped Google’s mapping service in September.