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According to one of the many new product announcements Apple made recently, the next wave of iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices will no longer have Google Maps built in. Users instead will gain access to Apple’s new mapping system – Apple Maps – that’s built from the ground up, and is designed to compete directly with the search engine’s popular Google Maps platform.

Apple Maps is available for download and installation as part of the new iOS6 update; it will also soon be available to the rest of Apple iOS users this upcoming fall. The mapping system, according to Apple, includes vector-based map elements that make graphics and text smooth, and panning, tilting, and zooming incredibly fluid.

Other features include crowd-sourced, real-time traffic information which offers alternative time-saving routes depending on traffic conditions; turn-by-turn directions and a navigation guide (spoken by Siri); Flyover, a photo-realistic and interactive 3D mapping feature; and local search information for over 100 million businesses, complete with Yelp reviews, ratings, deals, and photos.

Industry observers believe that Apple’s new mapping product will enable the company to tap into the growing trend for local search marketing and location-based advertising: areas that Google has so far dominated, with its Google Maps and Google+ Local (formerly Google Places) products.

“Ultimately making the move to its own maps solution will probably end up as a win for consumers,” wrote Darrell Etherington over at TechCrunch. “Competition between the two products will drive innovation on both sides, so Android users should also benefit, and Apple will ultimately build a product that feels at home on a device where it currently comes across as a bit of a stranger.”

What Apple Maps Means to Your Business

While Apple Maps is not expected to be as polished as Google Maps, it is still poised to offer new direct competition to Google, while also giving business owners, advertisers, and marketers an alternative listings and review management platform through which they can leverage location-based information and reach out to smartphone / mobile users.

Do you own or manage a business? Here are some key developments that the introduction of Apple Maps may lead to:

Get listed on Apple Maps. Greg Sterling of Screenwerk listed some of the possible Apple Maps data providers, including Yelp, TomTom, Acxiom, Localeze, CoreLogic, DigitalGlobe, Intermap, LeadDog, Urban Mapping, and MDA Information Systems, Inc. While it hasn’t been announced how exactly data from these companies will be integrated to Apple Maps (there’s also no “Claim Your Business” option yet on Apple’s platform), it’s going to be more critical than ever to get listed in online review sites, directories, and business listings (such as those mentioned above). That’s the best way for your business to get found!

Don’t just concentrate on Google Maps and Google+ Local. While Google remains the leader in local search, it doesn’t mean you should focus your local marketing efforts on this single platform. Review sites like Yelp and directories like Localeze are integrated with Apple Maps in one way or another, which means that getting listed on Google+ Local isn’t enough. Claim your listing and verify your business information in as many sites and directories as possible; that way, you get to cover all your bases and ensure easier connection with smartphone and mobile device users on all kinds of platforms.

Tracking Yelp reviews is more important than ever. If you haven’t started monitoring and tracking Yelp reviews, now is the time to get started. Apple Maps integrates information from Yelp (among other local data providers) by showing local business ratings and reviews and possibly your published Yelp deals and photos, too.

By staying on top of your Yelp listing or business page – and putting yourself in a position to manage your online reputation – you can reach out to Apple mobile device users and promote all the positive user-generated content (five-star ratings, glowing reviews) you have so far been able to generate.

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.