BUSINESS

Apple Buys Locationary, Toronto-Based Mapping Company

07/19/2013 01:43 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Nearly a year after Grant Ritchie offered Apple Inc. some unsolicited advice on how to solve its mapping issues, his location data company has been bought by the California-based technology giant.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) confirmed Friday that it has acquired Locationary, a privately held company based in Toronto that specializes in converting and integrating location-based data that can be used in maps.

Apple wouldn't disclose what it paid for the small Toronto-based startup or the motivation for the purchase.

Last year, Ritchie, Locationary's founder and chief executive, wrote an article for the website TechCrunch advising Apple on how to fix some of the issues it was having with its maps application.

He listed several technical challenges a company like Apple may face when trying to build a location-based application.

Merging data from multiple sources into a composite database is "an entire business in itself," Ritchie said.

"While Apple needs to do it all, some companies, to become experts, just specialize in only one of these tasks," he wrote.

The tech giant was widely criticized when it replaced Google Maps on its iPhone and iPad operating systems with its own application.

Alex Guana, a senior analyst at JMP Securities, said Apple's map application was incomplete and had mistakes in it when the company launched it with the iPhone 5.

"Apple definitely stumbled when they released maps, and it was a black eye for the company," said Guana.

"It's getting better, but it's still not nearly as polished a product as Google Maps is."

Although acquiring Locationary could help Apple solve its mapping problems, correcting the application isn't necessarily the company's focus, said Guana.

Apple has been struggling lately as Samsung devices equipped with Android operating systems have gained popularity.

"The acquisition makes sense," said Guana.

"Doing their best to improve maps makes sense. But I think they also have other problems to tackle as well right now."

Locationary is the creator of a data management system called Saturn that allows clients to merge data from multiple sources into a composite profile.

The platform also helps clients synchronize and update their databases.

Locationary has received funding from the Investment Accelerator Fund run by the MaRS Discovery District.

It has also gotten money from Toronto venture capital firms Trellis Capital and Extreme Venture Partners.

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