Apple’s acquisition of Locationary is another signal in the rapidly evolving ecosystem around location data.
Maps and location have moved from being a specialized utility to center stage in the multi-billion dollar world of search. The data quality struggles Apple faced when it replaced Google Maps on the iPhone with its own map application were just one high-profile example of the challenges and hard work underway in making the entire location marketing ecosystem work.
The user-facing layer of map apps and location-aware search has raced ahead of the ability of businesses, particularly large multi-location advertisers, to normalize, manage, and control their own data. It’s unclear how Apple will deploy the mix of staff, data, and technology it is acquiring with Locationary, but clearly they are getting more serious about catching up to Google.
As the big players like Google, Apple and Facebook move forward in their own location data acquisition efforts, it’s my view that enterprises need to think about their own strategies. A first step is looking at the operational issues around managing and delivering useful data, but looking forward, there are strategic questions as to who will provide the authoritative content about a business’ locations and how a business flows its data into the ecosystem.