I should note that this very well might be a scammer faking they are from Apple, but according to Thomas the caller ID said “Apple, Inc.” so it seems like it could be legit.
Unafﬁliated with Apple, Inc.
I just saw this in the Apple support forum:
“We have been trying to get our location corrected for over a year. We finally got a call from Apple about 6 months ago and they said they are aware of the wrong address and would have it fixed in a couple of months. It is still incorrect. Our business name is The Orchard. We are a wedding venue and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday we have from 200 to 400 guests trying to find us. “
This is the first I have heard of Apple Maps calling a business to verify the location data. Has anyone else been called by Apple like this?
TL:DR: FIX YOUR APPLE MAPS DATA ISSUES ON YELP FIRST
Just as Google Local SEO relies on NAP (Name, Address & Phone Number) consistency to help Google understand and rank (or not rank) your business, Apple Maps has its own flavor of NAP inconsistencies gumming up the works. Often businesses whose data is not up to date at all of the business listing aggregators Apple Maps uses, can find their business displayed incorrectly on the Maps or even worse, not displayed at all. These days SEOs are spending a lot of time making sure NAP info is up to date all over the Web, but in the case of Apple Maps, updating your Yelp data may be your best first move. It seems that Apple Maps may trust Yelp’s info more than anyone else’s.
Consider the case of West Kendall Toyota.
Apple Maps lists the business name as “West Kendall Toyota Sales”:
That’s Not The Business’ Name
Nowhere on its site is “West Kendall Toyota Sales” mentioned:
“West Kendall Toyota Sales” is not listed in Apple Maps’ U.S. data aggregators:
- Neustar Localeze ain’t got nothing:
though it has this listing at the same address:
- Factual = Zippo:
though it has this listing at the same address:
- Axciom – Nada:
and it has nada for any other listing for this business.
Yelp To The Rescue
The only evidence I can find of a business named “West Kendall Toyota Sales” in Miami, is on Yelp:
In this case, it’s pretty clear that Apple is trusting Yelp’s business name above all other data it has about the business.
So if you are having issues with your data in Apple Maps, make sure your NAP info is up to date on Yelp first. This will be a much quicker fix than doing it via the data aggregators, which you should also do regardless. If anyone has any additional data on this, please share in the comments.
Comscore has just released data on U.S. smartphone market share for the three months ending in September, 2013. According to my calculations, the report shows that 63% of people with iPhones (or 38 million people) use the Apple Maps app. Here’s how I got the numbers:
Comscore Smartphone Subscriber Market Share Data September 2013:
|Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers||147.9 million|
|Apple Share of U.S. Smartphone Subscribers||40.6%|
|Total Apple U.S. Smartphone Subscribers||60 million|
|% Reach of Apple Maps||25.6%|
|Total Apple Maps Users||38 million|
According to Mike Vorhaus of Magid Advisors, in 2012, 26% of US households (62 million!) had an iPad. Any of the tens of millions of iPads sold over the past year have the Apple Maps app already installed. And Apple’s new OS X Mavericks operating system brought Apple Maps to millions of Apple desktops last month. So suffice to say, Apple Maps’ reach should continue to grow dramatically, particularly after Christmas.
What About Google Maps?
According to The Guardian, at the same time Google Maps usage has dropped by about 21%, or about 16 million monthly users, over the past year:
“But as iOS 6 began to roll out, and introduced Apple’s maps as the default, the number using Google Maps dropped precipitously, even as the number of iPhones and Android phones began rising. (ComScore does not measure usage on Windows Phone or BlackBerry, which comprise only about 10% of smartphones in use in the US.) By December 2012, even though the base of iPhones and Android phones had grown to 112.9m – up 9.3m – the total number across both platforms using Google Maps on mobile at least once a month had dropped, to 74.4m.
Latest figures from ComScore, published for September 2013, say that the total number of iPhones and Android phones in the US has grown to 136.7m, the number who used the Google Maps app has kept dropping – down to 58.8m – while the number of Apple Maps users stands at 35m out of a total iPhone population of 60.1m.”
The Guardian estimates that Google Maps usage on the iPhone has dropped over the past year by about 29 million monthly users. Ouch.
I have received several inquiries lately from businesses that operate out of residential locations and would like to hide their address in Apple Maps. As far as I know, you can’t hide your address in Apple Maps. And in fact, I have heard through the grapevine that Apple Maps has actively tried to keep businesses located in residential areas out of the maps.
Hey Apple, how about a business profile management dashboard for Xmas?
Now that Apple Maps allows you to suggest categories for business listings, I thought it might be useful to list them here. There are 689 listed categories, but there are several duplicates and for some reason, a number of foreign-language categories like Amtsgericht. Why does it matter what these categories are? If in fact, these are the complete set of Apple Maps’ business categories (I hope not as there are lots of missing categories), then when you are categorizing your business in one Apple Maps’ data suppliers’ databases, you might want to use the exact category name that Apple uses. Often these databases use categories that have a lot of overlap, but if you want to have the best possible chance of your business data mapping from a data provider to Apple Maps, it might be worthwhile to use the closest match to Apple’s categories.
Apple Maps has improved the “Report a Problem” feature with the release of iOS7 and may have just taken the first step towards making the service more hospitable to businesses.
While I have heard very few cases where reporting a problem actually resulted in that problem being resolved, it’s still interesting to see how Apple is slowly building the functionality to give users more control over the business listings.
Here’s a comparison of the Report A Problem screens from iOS6 and iOS7:
Besides being much more readable, you’ll notice that Apple Maps in iOS7 now allows you to report:
- Street or other label is incorrect
Clicking on this brings up a map where the user is instructed to “Tap the incorrectly labeled street or feature”. This is not the way to fix problems with your business listings. This seems mostly targeted at incorrect map data (v. business data).
- Location is missing (Should be called “Add or Move a Listing” instead)
Select this option to get a screen where you can move a map pin for the business you just searched for to the right location. Not sure why they called this “Location is missing” as the first screen you get when you click is to move the map pin, which would be non-existent for a missing location.
You have to ignore the pin and click on the “Next” link where you then can fill out your business info. I just did it for Local SEO Guide, Inc. so we’ll see how long it takes for it to get into the Maps. Of note, the screen where you can enter your business info allows you to enter the following data about a business:
- Business Name
- Phone number
- URL (!)
- Category (!)
This is the baby step towards having an actual claiming/updating system for businesses. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until iOS8 for that to happen….More thoughts later.
Comscore has released its July 2013 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share report. According to Comscore Apple Maps is now the 10th most popular mobile app in the U.S. and is reaching about 28% of all smartphone users. With Apple releasing its new iPhone(s?) later this month and OS Mavericks, its new desktop operating system which comes with Apple Maps baked in, in October, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number hits around 40% by January. Apple Maps is for real and it will keep on getting realer. Time to figure it out for your business, no?
Greg Sterling has more detail on the Comscore report.
The sources Apple Maps uses for business listings data vary by country. Today, I was trying to help Happy Endings Comedy Club in Sydney, Australia figure out why they were being shown at 88 Brougham St. when their address is 154 Brougham St. You can follow the discussion on the Apple Support Community here, but I thought it might be useful to my Aussie friends to discuss what I found here.
Warning: I have no idea if this is accurate or not. It’s just what I have found thus far. If you have any corrections or additions, please let me know.
- Apple Maps Primary(?) Australian & New Zealand Data Provider is WhereIs Sensis Pty Ltd
WhereIs appears to aggregate both geo-spatial data (addresses, roads, topography, etc.) from various Australian sources and business listings data (also known as POIs – Points of Interest) from its parent company, Sensis, one of the biggest media companies in Australia, is basically a Yellow Pages monopoly.
- It’s Highly Likely That Most Australian Business Listings Data Comes From Sensis
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that your listing is in Sensis’ (& its parent co Telstra’s) local search engines:
- Yellowpages.com.au - Add a Business To Yellowpages.com.au
- Sensis.com.au – I suspect this site pulls its business listings from Yellowpages.com.au
- Citysearch.com.au – There’s no free business submission, but you can try contacting CitySearch. But I think they also pull their listings from YellowPages.com.au
- TrueLocal.com.au – A ratings & reviews Australian yellow pages site.
- Another route might be via the Sensis Business Search API
- Check Factual
Factual has listings for Australia that Apple may be using, so check to see if you are listed in their Global Places data set and submit a new record if not (registration required).
- When In Doubt, Try Yelp Australia
In the case of Happy Ending, they were not present in any of the above databases, at either address. The only presence I could find for them relevant to Apple Maps was in Yelp Australia. I didn’t think Apple was using Yelp for base listings data, only reviews and photos, but in certain countries, Apple may be relying on Yelp as a source of ground truth.
- It May Be The Mapping Data, Not The Business Data
The fact that Happy Ending was listed at the incorrect address and I couldn’t find any references to that address in any of the obvious places – or in Google - leads me to think this is less an issue with NAP data and more likely an issue with Apple or the WhereIs screwing up the geo-spatial coordinates. So besides reporting a problem via Apple Maps, it probably would be a good idea to report the error to WhereIs which you can do here.Happy Ending told me they were going to try all of this stuff, so I’ll keep you posted if it works. Even if it doesn’t, the exercise should be a net positive for the business as right now they are pretty much invisible in most of the top local search services besides Yelp.
Apple’s acquisitions last week of Locationary and HopStop got me wondering which company was next on its hit list. I asked some smart people in Local Search for their predictions and here’s what they had to say, listed in order of who responded first:
Gib Olander, CEO of Local Viewpoints, a new review service for SMBs:
“Someone in the review space for sure They need more descriptive content. Foursquare would be terrific – maybe the best context relevant content on the web. The other big company would be OpenTable. Foursquare has terrific relevancy content. Both Foursquare and OpenTable each are loaded with content and context when people make decisions and where they go next. Things that enable action. It would have to integrate with Siri and the personal assistant idea. A scheduling company? There are a few photo sites / apps that might make sense. Apple thinks its job is to make great products that seem magical. Relevancy is a way for that magic to happen. I don’t think they want to crawl the web to find all the content on the web they are going to look for ways to cheat and have feeds of content brought in. That’s the idea of the Locationary product at least. Foursquare may be too big for them to buy and not core enough, but they have the most interesting data/content in the marketplace today.”
“Well the big issues that remain would seem to be geo quality, quick updates (crowdsourcing) and real time updates. They are obviously interested in the latter as expressed by their interest in Waze. But perhaps someone (As Dobson pointed out in September) like TeleNav could satisfy that. As to who can help them with geo quality and geo updates is not clear to me…. given that they don’t seem to like to buy bigger companies like TeleAtlas (which is not that good to start with)”
Mike Boland, VP Content & Sr Analyst of BIA Kelsey:
“(Whatever it is, with) the two mapping related acquisitions this week, they’re building a data backbone in the wake of MapGate. BTW “mapgate” is a misspelled word in iOS I’m now seeing. No OTA update to autocorrect it with Tim Cook’s apology letter.”
Peter Krasilovsky, VP, Conferences and Sr. Analyst of BIA Kelsey:
“Maybe a map-based, mobile-oriented coupon company like Antengo or a coupons and deals service like 8coupons.” More on Peter’s thoughts here.
“I would think Apple is potentially interested in its own business listings and local data source, notwithstanding the recent Locationary acquisition. I also think that Apple might want to go after someone like INRIX, which provides traffic information. Alternatively I could equally imagine a directions and navigation acquisition, such as Telenav. ”
— Nyagoslav Zhekov (@Nyagoslav) July 19, 2013
“Telenav comes to mind. And I’d look at all of the apps that Apple promoted in the App Store when they had the fiasco maps launch. Hopper is an interesting startup they might look at but probably too early. Foursquare is still too expensive. Pretty sure Apple will want a buy that gives them a combination of data and tech/talent. There aren’t many options. Other than niche plays like Hopstop.”
Deeper Than Deep, Deep Throat:
“Locationary, theoretically satisfied merge/purge ETL issue and HopStop gets them into transit data, although they still have a long way to go. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something in the LiDAR area as it relates to imagery. Google has been using this technology for years to map points in space and do things like extract images and text and match it up with their precise locations. There’s a lot of amazing data you can get from this that can inform what you show for various map queries. For example, knowing where a one-way sign is a located. That said, Apple’s thing is to leap-frog, so what could they do that’s different from Google Maps? Maybe tying it to commerce via Passbook? Google already does something like this with Google Offers and Google Wallet, but I don’t think that it has gotten significant traction, so perhaps a big local commerce play. Then again, just improving “Report a Problem” feature would be a big step.”
Perry Evans, CEO of Closely
“The most logical moves, in my opinion, are on data layering “on top” of base mapping. For base mapping, controlling the work of TomTom would be the obvious move, since they now know what they have and how it’s working/not working. There’s no silver bullet in base mapping and navigation.
For layered data, I’d look to acquire Factual or Urban Airship – to bolster the ability to add and leverage social-local content for data and ad infrastructure. Beyond that, I’ve always felt Yelp was the logical buy, but they seem to be acting pretty independently, and I suspect Apple has already tried that plan.
A couple of wildcards – recce.at or maybe a player in interior mapping tech. I’d look to the leading tech for taking a position in photo processing for 3-D and interior pics. I love cycloramic – great simple tool, very interesting low tech approach for recording interior 3-ds.”
“There is an early stage company in the bay area called Alohar. It should probably be bought by Apple and the opportunity could be right. They have a very interesting SDK that captures a ton of realtime location data from within apps on the mobile devices. If you want to chat with them as well I can connect you. They are down in Palo Alto. The CEO was former Google and handled location services for the Apple relationship early on and then more mainline location services for Google before leaving 2-3 years ago.”
“Apple has plenty of business data coming through multiple sources but technology cannot cleanse all of it. Apple will likely need some small set up with expertise in local specific business listings. My guess is that they may end up scooping a data setup like wCities or Urban Spoon.”
As I mulled over the various responses, it got me thinking about Apple’s strategy for maps. As Horace Dediu would ask:
“What is the job Apple Maps is hired to do?”
There are many, like Matt Yglesias, who would argue persuasively that Apple Maps’ job is to prod Google to keep improving the Google Maps iOS app which helps keep iPhone users happy. That may be its entry-level job, but I think in the long-run its real job is to be a well-functioning mobile mapping app that is also the premiere platform to showcase innovative location-based apps.
Apple doesn’t need to buy consumer recommendation services like Foursquare or Yelp – as one exec put it, “Apple would never buy Yelp because do you think they ever want to see a pissed off SMB with a one-star rating going postal at the Genius Bar?”
I don’t think they need to buy “closing the loop” services like OpenTable either. A big difference between Apple & Google, is that Apple doesn’t need/seem to want to make money off of their maps. They just need the maps to work well and to be integrated into any app that wants to work with them, like they currently do with Yelp. I wouldn’t be surprised if the launch of iOS 7 or the next iPhone includes an announcement that there are a lot more content data providers that will appear in Apple Maps. The ideal Apple Maps app may be one that is aware of the apps you have installed on your device and shows those apps’ data on the maps when you make relevant queries, and puts their POIs (Points of Interest) in the right place.
So what does Apple Maps really need to do the job that it has been hired to do?
1. A Crowdsourcing Company:
Although Mike Dobson clearly thinks Waze was not worth $1B, Google’s MapMaker + Waze equals two great ways for people (and bots) to contribute to mapping data which can help with data cleanup and create new UGC mapping experiences. While Waze probably did not have a significant enough global footprint to make a huge difference, the combination of Apple’s reach plus Waze’s expertise might have been a game changer for the weak “Report a Problem” feature. That said, my guess is that Apple doesn’t need this kind of technology as much as they need people who understand the problem. So I am putting my money on a company like Primordial, makers of Ooze (a crowdsourcing platform for what looks like Black Ops). Would make for great headlines – “Apple Maps Ooze…”
2. A LiDAR Company
Apple needs it’s own version of StreetView. This seems a big scale effort that can’t be solved by any old start-up with a tricked out car (or maybe it can). While I imagine they could pay some smart company a lot of $ to make this happen, I think they are going to want to own this data. So they probably need some kind of LiDAR company. I don’t know jack about LiDAR, but as with most things, here’s a good place to start.
3. More Smart People Who Understand This Stuff
The world of mapping aka “geospatial data” is bewilderingly complex. I have been operating around it for ten years now and I barely understand the issues. I think Deep Throat was right on the money with “a combination of data and tech/talent”. My bet is that it has been the lack of product and engineering people with a long history in this field that has been the biggest obstacle to getting Apple Maps off the ground.