BroadMap is a comprehensive and expansive mapping firm with several different products and services. While the other Apple maps-related acquisitions this year focused on transit and indoor mapping capabilities, which will likely be integrated into iOS 8, BroadMap’s expertise is managing, sorting, and analyzing mapping data.
On its website, BroadMap lists its various areas of expertise. While BroadMap does not have a central feature that could be integrated into Apple’s existing product (like transit or indoor mapping functions), BroadMap’s experience in sorting data, cartography, points of interest, enterprise integration, geocoding, web development, and mobile application development would be invaluable to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple Services Senior Vice President Eddy Cue’s plan to bring Apple Maps up to the expectations of Apple’s customers.
In addition to the information from Perrone’s LinkedIn profile, almost every BroadMap executive is now on Apple’s mapping team.
In addition to acquiring BroadMap, it seems likely that Apple bought Catch. Catch was a popular, cross-platform note taking application that has been regarded by many as a competitor to Evernote. Catch, which existed on both iOS and Android, was known for its ability to sync over the cloud, its simple user-interface, its reminders and notifications functionality, and its ability to logically and conveniently sort notes with both text and media including picture and audio files.
The company shut down in August of this year citing a “difficult decision to take the company in a different direction.” While this “difficult decision” appears (on the surface) to be the company simply closing its doors, the context of the shutdown was mysterious. See, only approximately one month before announcing its shutdown, the company launched a major new enterprise-related product called Catch Team. It would be odd for the company to shut down so quickly after launching a new product.
Catch was also popular among many productivity application fans and with… Apple. In fact, Apple promoted the Catch application across its different marketing platforms. As can be seen above, the Catch team is posing in front of a banner for their application in an Apple retail store.
Perhaps even more interesting, Catch used to operate a known Android application called Compass. The application was location-based and infused locations with notes. Essentially, it was an app to “annotate your world.” Perhaps Apple was interested in that technology and this potential acquisition was more of an Apple Maps play. The Compass app is no longer available.
Besides learning of the likely BroadMap and Catch acquisitions, sources have clarified that Apple’s earlier acquisitions of both Cue and Topsy were specifically for enhancements to Siri over the next few major releases of iOS. 2013 has been an atypical year for Apple in terms of acquisitions, with the company buying three times as many companies this year as it did in 2012. Apple acquisitions are intriguing because they typically foretell future products. For example, Apple’s Authentec acquisition helped design Touch ID for the iPhone 5s, and before Siri launched with the iPhone 4S, Siri was a Silicon Valley-based startup.