Apple Hires Architect of BMW and Mercedes SatNav in Mapping Push

  • Sinisa Durekovic joined Apple in unspecified role in October
  • Durekovic led design of navigation systems at Harman

Apple Inc. has hired Sinisa Durekovic, a software engineer who led the development of satellite navigation systems used by luxury carmakers including BMW AG, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi.

Durekovic, who joined Apple in an unspecified role in October, was principal architect and then chief engineer for navigation at Harman International Industries Inc., whose systems are used by a slew of carmakers.

Apple’s Maps app has received consistently tepid reviews since its release in 2012, and the iPhone maker has intensified its efforts to improve the product this year. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook opened a 4,000-employee development center in Hyderabad, India, last month that will focus on mapping, while Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing may give it access to Chinese driver behavior and mapping data.

Trudy Muller, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment on Durekovic’s hiring. Spokesmen for Harman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Durekovic didn’t respond to an interview request.

Apple’s CarPlay, which integrates the iPhone into an auto’s information and entertainment system, is used by more than 40 car brands and offers navigation as well as music playback and phone calls. Some carmakers are wary of using systems developed by Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. As vehicles lean more heavily on software, automakers fear that new entrants from the technology industry will steal market share in the fast-growing, highly profitable niche. Google and Apple also are developing autonomous driving capabilities.

Durekovic had been working in the Munich suburb of Garching, close to BMW’s headquarters in the city, before relocating to the San Francisco area when he joined Apple last year, according to his LinkedIn profile. After starting out in 1994 at Navigon GmbH, a global positioning system company now owned by Garmin Ltd., the German citizen has spent more than 20 years working in various roles developing satellite navigation software, culminating in two years at Harman. He holds a patent on a system that uses mapping data to prevent car collisions.

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