March 24, 2013
Apple has acquired yet another mapping-related company in the form of WiFiSLAM, an indoor positioning startup based in Silicon Valley. The Wall Street Journal reports that the acquisition "closed recently," with Apple paying "around $20 million" for it. Essentially, WiFiSLAM develops mobile apps that can locate smartphone users within buildings using only ambient Wi-Fi signals. As such, it's able to provide step-by-step indoor navigation, product-level retail customer engagement, and proximity-based social networking, among other services. According to The Wall Street Journal:
An Apple spokesman confirmed the deal saying the company “buys smaller technology companies from time to time” and generally doesn’t discuss its plans. He declined to comment further. WifiSLAM could not immediately be reached for comment.Indeed, WiFiSLAM's website appears to have been already taken offline. If you can't see the video embedded above, please click here. Of course, Apple's acquisition of WiFiSLAM is considered to have been carried out as part of Apple's continuing efforts to improve its poorly received Maps app. It was apparently to this end that Apple acquired the mapping companies Placebase, Poly9, and C3 in 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively. Apple's Maps app debuted on iOS 6 in September 2012, whereupon it was criticized for its many inaccuracies. It now faces stiff competition with the very mapping solution it replaced, Google Maps, which relaunched on iOS to generally positive reviews in December.