Apple decision to leave Google Maps behind means Australian SMEs have work to do

In a devastating blow to Google, businesses are being told to get up to speed with Yelp as quickly as possible after Apple decided to ditch the internet giant’s beloved map service and go it alone with their own program.

The move has been rumoured for months, but chief executive Tim Cook finally announced the departure this morning with Apple to now use its own 3D-style map system. The new app will integrate with Yelp for all of its business listings, instead of sourcing Google Places data.

As StewArt Media chief executive Jim Stewart points out, this is a huge blow for Google – evidenced by the fact its shares have fallen more than $US8 after the announcement.

“The impact on Google is going to be really interesting to watch, because at one point there was talk about this being an advertising platform.”

Having Yelp integrated into the map system is a big change for SMEs. With Yelp having recently entered Australia, this is a major reason why businesses need to get on the site, read the information available about their company, and then start updating it and taking it seriously.

The fact Apple’s maps product now integrates with the site means whenever someone searches for your business category, and your company shows up, that user will be able to see reviews about your business.

Research shows more users take online reviews seriously when deciding where to eat, or where to buy a product. The fact your company’s listing is about to be included in this software – which has one of the highest penetration rates in Australia – means you cannot ignore the change.

“As far as search goes, I’d start looking at Yelp, and making sure you’re giving really good customer service. Play nice socially,” Stewart warns.

“This is definitely going to be a critical change. All this maps and search stuff is tied together. Clearly Apple is trying to keep their users in just one environment.”

There are some simple things that can be done, such as looking up your information on Yelp and making sure it’s accurate. But good customer service is key – respond to complaints and generate a reputation for being a decent online operator.

“This is all about control,” Stewart says. “Apple doesn’t want things working better on Android when they can work great on iOS.”

The new map system has everything Google has – including turn-based navigation and 3D maps. Real-time traffic updates will also be included, with all the information coming from users – the app will even update your traffic routes on the fly as new information comes in.

“We built an entire new mapping solution from the ground up,” iOS lead Scott Forstall said during the announcement. “It is beautiful. We did all the cartography ourselves.”

Street view, Google’s product for allowing users to see photographs of a road at street level, will obviously be gone. Apple is emphasising the fact this whole program is within the company’s existing walled garden.

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