Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, recently had to leave his position on the Apple board of directors because both companies had become too competitive. Once, both tech giants got along well. They were both "the little guy" compared to giants like Microsoft, and they both had a reputation for being the coolest companies on Silicon Valley. Google and Apple shared boards of directors, and may even have had agreements to not poach employees. They were the best of friends.
But now, thanks to Android and the App Store and the march of time, Apple and Google are at each others throats like a couple of angry dogs. That's good for us, the customers, because it means we get to watch both corporations create cool new products to try and outshine the other guy. For example; it looks like Apple is cooking up an alternative to Google Maps, according to Seth Weintraub at Computerworld.
Seth noticed a few months back when Apple purchased PlaceBase, the developer of a next-generation map API named Pushpin. Apple kept the whole acquisition on the down-low, and even removed the Pushpin website. For a few months, no one heard anything. Then it was discovered that the founder of PlaceBase was now an Apple employee working on the "Geo Team".
Now, Pushpin was originally built as an alternative to Google Maps. PlaceBase knew that it would be a long time before Google got around to adding customization options to map data. In addition to custom maps, Pushpin gave users the ability to layer data (like crime statistics, house values, etc) over the map itself.
Weintraub believes that Apple purchased Pushpin and started their Geo Team in order to create a map utility of their own for the iPhone. Apple and Google are no longer best buddies, so it makes sense for Cupertino to want to free themselves from as much Google dependence as they possibly can. This is really good news for anyone who uses Google Maps, because (if true) it means that we'll soon be getting customization and layering options too.
I really hope this is just the first salvo in a long exchange between Apple and Google. At their best, both companies are world-class innovators who have changed the face of the world with their products. If they start trying their hardest to out-do one another, those of us standing on the sidelines and playing with the new toys they make can't help but win.