In its statement about recent concerns over the iPhone’s location cache, Apple says:
Apple is now collecting anonymous traffic data to build a crowd-sourced traffic database with the goal of providing iPhone users an improved traffic service in the next couple of years.
Now, let's indulge in a little daydreaming. As suggested by Ian Betteridge – does this mean data traffic or car-and-van traffic?
There are good reasons why it’s fun – and not too far-fetched – to interpret the sentence with the latter sense.
One big feature differentiator with the iPhone and Android handsets is that Androids have free turn-by-turn satnav abilities built-in; Apple could make the iPhone even more appealing to floating handset buyers (apologies for that image) by adding a similar feature and so removing a reason to plump for Android.
And we know that TomTom uses information from mobile phone providers to enhance the accuracy of its live traffic service, HD Traffic.
So: is the iPhone now so ubiquitous that location data from the millions of handsets in use – which, fundamentally, reports not only where you are but how fast you’re travelling – is fine-grained enough to provide, or even just boost, live data about road congestion in a free satnav app Apple is developing for the iPhone?
That would be bad news for TomTom, Navigon and the other companies that make great satnav apps for the iPhone now.