Apple Inc. Buys Mapping Visualization Startup Mapsense

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Apple has acquired Mapsense to compete effectively with Google Maps, says a report from Re/code, which cites sources aware of the company’s plans. The San Francisco-based startup is engaged in building tools that help analyze and visualize location data.

Apple boosting its Maps division

Mapsense had a team of 12 people, and Apple paid somewhere in the range of $25 million to $35 million for the company, says the report. Citing unnamed sources, the report informs readers that this team will now join the Cupertino-based company. Sort of confirming the acquisition, Apple gave its usual statement. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.

Apple has acquired several location services companies over the years in a quiet manner, and crowd-sourced maps tool Hopstop (in 2013) was one of them. In May, the iPhone firm acquired Coherent Navigation, which is a GPS company. It is being speculated that Apple is conducting a major Maps overhaul to include imagery from mapping vans that are collecting data on streets around the world. Apple also added transit data to its Maps product recently and now offers full support for navigation, search and Siri integration.

A good fit for Apple

Mapsense was formed in 2013 by Erez Cohen, who had worked with data science company Palantir Technologies in the past. Mapsense allows users to slice and dice graphical models, holding massive amounts of data for retrieving valuable information. It is a cloud-based solution, naturally. In May, the company launched its developer program, expressing interest in welcoming customers from the financial sector, advertising, government and Fortune 500 firms. Mapsense raised $2.5 million in the very same month in a seed round led by General Catalyst and Amplify. Other backers of the startup are LA and Redpoint Ventures.

Apple has been rumored to be working on electric cars for the past few months, and it is said the company has also built a secret research lab dedicated to automotive technologies. It is possible that the company has ambitions of manufacturing self-driving cars just like its neighbors in Silicon Valley: Google, Tesla and Uber. And for this, an advanced maps division is a must.

On Wednesday, Apple shares closed up 0.11% at $116.41. Year to date, the stock is up by over 3% while in the last year, shares are up by almost 15%.

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