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Apple reportedly buys C3 Technologies for 3D maps

updated 02:35 pm EDT, Sat October 29, 2011

Apple C3 deal may show deeper maps focus

An as yet unconfirmed claim has pointed to Apple being the mystery buyer of C3 Technologies. The firm is reportedly still working out of its Swedish office and is informally known as Sputnik, 9to5 heard. CEO Mattias Astrom, CFO Jkell Cederstrand, and lead product manager Ludvig Emgard are all still said to be working, although it's not clear if anyone was let go.

The company's key technology is one derived from publicized military techniques for automatically generating 3D maps. The approach, which gets elevation from photography, lets it quickly render maps with 3D buildings, terrain, and other significant landmarks while still folding them into regular 2D imagery.

Similar to what Apple accomplished with Siri, the goal is likely to be to not just come up to par with Google in mobile apps but to try to leapfrog its work. Google already has 3D maps on the desktop and in Android, but its method currently limits those maps to key areas, usually just a selection of major cities, and have considerably less detail. C3's automation could help Apple catch up and possibly offer 3D maps in more areas, though not necessarily for the entire world.

Apple has been leaving multiple clues that it's planning a major overhaul of its iOS map tool. It bought PlaceBase for what could bring more informative map layers. Investments already exist in 3D mapping through the acquisition of Poly9.

The company hasn't shown any signs of dropping Google Maps as its foundation, but C3 and other deals point to it at least building significantly on its existing strategy. Apple has been hiring for its iOS map team in recent months and could produce results in the near future.

by MacNN Staff



    Comment buried. Show
  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    With all the money that Apple

    has, they should be able to turn the entire world into 3D rendering. Apple isn't taking enough advantage of its huge amount of cash. It appeared that Nokia's 3D Ovi Maps looked just as good so I don't know about how much Apple would be leap-frogging over current technology. Google put a lot of time and effort into its street views, but Apple should be able to afford the resources to do even better. It's OK if Apple doesn't want to give any money directly back to shareholders in dividends, but at least do something useful with that money it's holding for Apple product users.

  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple are about focused efforts

    Apple will only spend their money in areas where they can make a noticeably better better product. If they feel they can improve on 3D map technology then they will...otherwise they will hold onto their money and work with industry partners rather than compete or destroy partners....that practise is better left to Google and MS.

  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I love it

    s**** with Apple and look what happens. Google maps and all those others has just become obsolete.

  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Probably so they can drop Google.

    iPhone came out when Google and Apple were still on very good terms. These days Google is seen as a bigger enemy than Microsoft. Siri is the first step to bypassing Google for search. My guess is that they'll try and find the best ways to supersede Google when possible on their platforms.

  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Aerial-to-Street view possible?

    Wow. The C3 technology is extremely impressive. But the real killer would be to seamlessly merge the aerial map with a ground-level map. So you could "fly" down to a specific address and see it as you'd see it if you were driving or walking there.

    That's the huge weakness of Google Earth and Google Maps. They're not integrated. If and when Apple can integrate the C3 aerial mapping with Siri and their own ground-level map, Google can kiss their Google Maps revenue goodbye.

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