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Google’s Schmidt Says Up to Apple to Decide on Maps App

Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 customers won’t be getting Google Inc.’s map application on their new devices anytime soon.

Google has yet to take any steps to offer new map software for the phone, Chairman Eric Schmidt said today. Apple, which had previously installed Google Maps on the iPhone before it shipped to users, replaced the feature with its own application in the latest model of the handset.

“It’s their choice,” Schmidt told a gathering of reporters in Tokyo, saying Apple would have to approve a version of Google Maps for the iPhone. “We haven’t done anything yet.”

Google hasn’t submitted a mapping app to Apple, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Apple’s new maps program has come under criticism from reviewers, who have said it doesn’t provide directions for public transportation and sometimes gets confused when navigating. Apple built its own mapping app amid a growing battle with Google, which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone was introduced in 2007.

“We think it would have been better if they had kept ours,” Schmidt said. “But what do I know? What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It’s their call.”

Google’s shares lost less than 1 percent to $749.16 at the close in New York. The stock has advanced 16 percent this year.

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Apple built the replacement app because it wanted to scale back its relationship with Google, and not because of any product flaws, two people familiar with Apple’s development of the mapping features have said. IPhone 5 users can access Google Maps through the Web browser.

The fallout from the feud extends beyond mapping. Customers also won’t find Google’s YouTube application preinstalled on the iPhone for the first time since 2007.

The company’s rivalry with Google was born after the owner of the world’s largest Internet search engine developed the Android mobile operating system, which runs devices from manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. that compete with Apple’s iPhone. Android is now the world’s most popular smartphone software.

As the competition escalated, Schmidt exited Apple’s board in 2009. Cupertino, California-based Apple also traded patent-infringement lawsuits with several smartphone manufacturers who use Android, including Samsung.

Google, the operator of the world’s largest Internet search engine, is stepping up its challenge to Apple in the tablet market, which is estimated to reach $78.7 billion this year, from $44.9 billion in 2011, according to DisplaySearch. The company today unveiled its Nexus 7 tablet for sale in Japan.

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