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Google Maps Only Added to the Original iPhone Weeks Before Unveiling

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The New York Times reports on Apple’s misstep with their new Maps app, and within the article it is revealed the original iPhone was never designed to ship with a mapping app. It was only added a few weeks before the unveiling, as ordered by then CEO Steve Jobs:

Including a maps app on the first iPhone was not even part of the company’s original plan as the phone’s unveiling approached in January 2007. Just weeks before the event, Mr. Jobs ordered a mapping app to show off the capabilities of the touch-screen device.

Two engineers put together a maps app for the presentation in three weeks, said a former Apple engineer who worked on iPhone software, and who declined to be named because he did not want to speak publicly about his previous employer. The company hastily cut a deal with Google to use its map data.

At the time, relying on Google, which had introduced its map service a couple of years earlier, made sense. Apple and Google had generally friendly relations, and Google’s chief executive at the time, Eric E. Schmidt, served on Apple’s board.

Apple executives were actually surprised at the popularity of the new map feature. But what bothered Apple was how Google was able to learn what every single iPhone user was doing every time they downloaded a map, according to the anonymous former Apple executive.

It was from this point on Steve Jobs and the team set out to build their own maps starting in 2009, through several acquisitions such as Placebase and 3D mapping company C3 Technologies. We know how that worked out in the end, right?

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