Apple Buys GPS Startup Coherent Navigation To Bolster Its Mapping Services


Apple Maps may be due for a significant bump in accuracy someday soon, now that Apple has acquired GPS startup Coherent Navigation.

The Cupertino giant emailed responses to queries about the purchase of the GPS startup by using its standard spiel regarding acquisitions.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," Apple said.

Coherent Navigation, founded in 2008, works in the defense and space industry and specializes in intelligent global positioning systems (iGPS), which combines mid-earth orbit satellite systems with Iridium Corporation's satellite constellation in low-earth orbit.

The company, whose site is now offline, had already seen the departure of three of its execs before Apple confirmed the acquisition with the emails, according to MacRumors. Coherent Navigation CEO Paul Lego started working for Apple in January of this year and co-founders Brett Ledvina and William Bencze followed him last month.

It isn't known how Apple will use Coherent Navigation's might, but Lego already states that he is a member of the Apple Maps team. The Coherent staff may provide their expertise in autonomous navigation to aid in Apple's rumored plans for driverless vehicles.

Apple has scooped up several other small companies, the size of Coherent Navigation, to further its independence from Google Maps. In 2009, it picked up Placebase and its mapping service and thus began the start of the slowly, yet steadily, improving Apple Maps.

Apple isn't the only company looking to step away from Google Maps and stand on its own mapping service. Uber has been pursuing Nokia's Here mapping service and the ridesharing company is believed to have bid $3 billion for it.

Uber's ride-sharing namesake app sits on the shoulders of Google Maps. Uber is looking to build out its own mapping service, though not from scratch, of course. Plus, it wouldn't have to share information with Google if it could step away from Google Maps.

"There are too many businesses out there that want an independent service," said Harold Goddijn, CEO of TomTom, which licenses data to Apple Maps. "They don't want to share customer data with Google. They want users to stay within their domain."

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