Apple Buys Map Company: Is Google Rift Deepening?

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In a sign that Apple is perhaps distancing itself from Google, the Cupertino company has bought a mapping startup.

In July, Apple bought the Los Angeles mapping startup Placebase, Seth Wientraub reports at Computerworld.

Placebase offered a sophisticated mapping application and API called Pushpin, which can create rich, detailed maps from all kinds of public and private data sets — much more than Google. See the example above, which shows gas stations and auto service shops in the L.A. area.

Steve Jobs has always said he likes to control the primary technology in his devices. Can he be preparing to move away from Google, especially its Mapping app, which is behind some of the iPhone’s primary functions and underlies new mapping features in iPhoto?

As Weintraub notes, Apple has been fighting with Google lately over the Google Voice app, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt quit Apple’s board to avoid conflicts of interest.

Is the Google/Apple rift deepening?