“Apple Maps Is Not Intended To Be A General Business Directory”

When I started this site, my goal was to keep it as opinion-free as possible and just post “how to” type info. Now that we’re about two years in, it’s time for a rant:

Same Day Serves passed on this email he received from Apple Maps re the whole no home-based businesses on Apple Maps thing:

 “…at this time we are not accepting any mobile or home-based businesses without external signage. If your business qualifies then please send a photo showing the external sign or building business directory matching your business name. There are two reasons for this policy. Firstly, Apple Maps is intended to help people navigate to businesses. It is not intended to be a general business directory. Secondly, this policy prevents people from creating fake listings at locations where they’re not present…” 

So as I said previously home-based businesses either need not apply or should employ a good Photoshop artist.

On a more philosophical note, while I agree with the concept of not allowing fake listings, I think this throws the baby out with the bathwater. “Firstly” let’s address the point that Apple Maps is intended to help people navigate to businesses by listening to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

“What do Apple Computer, Hershey’s, Mary Kay Cosmetics, and the Ford Motor Company have in common? These well-known corporations all started out as home-based businesses. In fact, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of an owner’s home.”

So a service that is intended to help people navigate to businesses will not help you navigate to more than half of all U.S. businesses.

And if this service is intended to help people navigate to businesses, then why include parks, government buildings, and all sorts of other “non-business” points of interest? Shouldn’t this service be intended to help people navigate to wherever they want to go, which may include home-based businesses?

But secondly, Apple Maps is keeping home-based businesses out in order to prevent people from creating fake listings at locations where they’re not present. While I agree that residential addresses are tempting targets for creating fake listings, how are they any less tempting than business addresses?  Both Google Maps and Apple Maps are littered with fake business address spam.

I know the Apple Maps team has a hard job to do, but I don’t think home-based businesses should be penalized for it.


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  1. Good coverage, Andrew. I’d add a caveat, though: Apple won’t accept home-based businesses as *new* submissions. Plenty of home-based businesses that have been on Apple Maps for a while are still there.

    1. True Phil; and in fact LSG is still listed. And while I am pretty certain Apple will take a good long time to get to this, at some point if they don’t want these businesses on the map, they will start removing them.

  2. Isn’t the utility of maps not just about navigation these days but also about search and discovery, including what services are available from nearby vendors. I may not be looking to go visit a plumber but I might want one who is local. I believe there are ways – paid or unpaid – to verify the legitimacy of these to filter the spammers. As a user I think it would be worth the effort.

  3. There is an intrinsic conflict between Maps and a business listing directory. One is for driving directions and the other is for (you guessed it..) business listings. When you merge those two things together the way that Google did 2006 those conflicts do not disappear.

    The Google Places side of the house said list away (initially) to home based businesses, the MapMaker side of the house said no! That conflict still exists and has not been fully resolved some 8 years on. Google has offered up the partial resolution of hiding an address which requires additional layers of enforcement AND problems with public reporting. Obviously it is not a simple problem to solve particularly if you are not willing to throw 6000 minions at it.

    While I sympathize with home based businesses, Apple’s requirement of signage seems a low barrier that most should be able to meet if they do in fact have folks come visit.

    And I doubt that Apple is going to solve the service area business issue any time soon.

    And as Phil points out, they have the option of getting listed in the directories that feed Apple.

  4. Just a note on this: I’m in the UK with a private limited company that I do my consulting through. My home address is the registered business address, but I do not see clients at home (nor would I want to!)

    Whatever database Apple Maps ingested to populate their data, they’ve managed to get my company name and address.

    End result: if I search for my company name in Apple Maps, it shows my home. This is undesired behaviour, because while I am happy to promote my business through a search engine, I do not really want people ringing my doorbell at home.

    I’ve reached out to Apple Maps with my issue, but have not heard a reply yet.

    An odd detail: the url they have associated with my business completely wrong (the url of a company based miles away), as is a slight misspelling of the company name.

    1. If Maps Connect works in the UK as it does in the U.S. when you claim your business, they should flag it as a residential address and will “deny” it. This doesn’t mean it will be removed – my listing hasn’t been yet and it’s been denied for several months. Your best bet to get the info updated is to figure out which data provider the bad info is coming from and change it there. If you put your listing with the details in the comments or send it to me via the contact form, I can take a look.

  5. This is kind of a dumb policy by Apple. So many businesses are home based and many that aren’t don’t even accepted clients at their business, they go to the client. As examples a company that does snow plowing or one that cleans carpets. The client is never going to visit them in person so what does it matter if they are home based or not.
    The bigger issue is that before this Apple got their info from InfoUSA and Yelp! which are both garbage. Also Siri is now linked to search results from Apple Maps so the barrier of needing signage to be listed needs to go away.

    1. Big Boy, Apple doesn’t get their info from InfoUSA. They do get info from Yelp – although they claim it’s just reviews, but they appear use the other Yelp data as a primary source. They also get their info from a gradually increasing diverse set of sources including Neustar Localeze, Axciom, Factual, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Wikipedia, Booking.com, GasBuddy and more.

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