The word this morning from AppleInsider is that Apple “recently” purchased mapping company Poly9. The company produced a lightweight, Web-based 3D globe similar to Google Earth and now some are speculating that an “Apple Earth” is on the way.
While Google Maps is currently the default on Apple’s mobile devices, there’s one thing for sure – Poly9’s Flash-based globe is not likely to find its way onto the devices.
Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow says that “it looks like this was an acqui-hire for talent” and that Apple “could be hiring Poly9 to help build a map product for the iPad and iPhone so Apple doesn’t have to rely on Google Maps.”
Right now, AppleInsider has said that neither Apple nor Poly9 has confirmed an acquisition and no other details are available. The initial report (via Google Translate) said that Poly9’s offices have been closed – as has its website – and that all but two employees have moved to Silicon Valley.
Beyond creating a Google Earth competitor, it looks like Poly9 had previously been involved in other geo-location technologies, including map integration with Garmin GPS, which allowed users to import data from their Garmin device into their map.
Whether or not Apple is looking to boot Google’s mapping products off of its mobile platform and replace them with its own, Apple is certainly making some moves in the geo-location realm, as evidenced by this reported acquisition alongside last year’s purchase of PlaceBase, another mapping company.