Apple’s emerging plan

Apple’s scheduled to make some announcements later this month (most rumors have zeroed in on the 27th), and there is much excitement around the potential release of a new tablet platform (the “iSlate”). However, there’s also expected to be an announcement of a new version of the iPhone OS (4.0). Apple’s facing increasing pressure from Google and their Android platform and need to step up their game to stay ahead. As usual, no one really knows what they have planned, but there are some clues. I think Apple is going to try to cut in to Google’s game in a big way. Here’s the evidence:

Anyone who has used Google Maps knows that it’s not perfect and can sometimes be frustratingly wrong, particularly when searching for business. Apple purchased a map company called Placebase back in July. Expect to see a new version of the maps application NOT driven by Google maps. Location-based advertising is a huge market, and Apple is not going let themselves become a feeder for Google’s business.

Apple also recently purchased Quattro Wireless, a mobile advertising company – I’m sure also not a coincidence. Apple currently offers developers two options for app development: sell the app for a price via the app store, and Apple will give you 70% of the profit, or sell it for free and neither the developer nor Apple makes any money. Here’s a new potential option: include some code in your app and Apple will take care of an ad-based model, sell your app for free in the app store, and you split the profits with Apple.

This model could also work (and, indeed, may work better) for the tablet, where screen real estate will be more plentiful.

What about search, Google’s core service? What if Apple’s tablet offered a search restricted to the most useful sources: news outlets and magazines that also happened to deliver their material via Apple’s new platform? That would be a strong incentive to participate.

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