Apple is boosting its in-house mapping team with the purchase of Canadian startup Poly9, according to a report Wednesday.
Most of the employees from the Quebec-based Poly9 have relocated to California, according to French-language newspaper Le Soleil. However, the deal has not been officially acknowledged by Apple or Poly9.
Poly9’s main product was an online globe-based mapping program similar to Google Earth. The company also built the embedded online map that NORAD uses every Christmas Eve to track Santa Clause’s journey across the world. Other past clients include Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, and MSNBC. The company was founded in 2005, without external investment.
Poly9’s corporate Web site is currently offline, however its Poly9 Globe application can be viewed here.
Erick Schonfeld from TechCrunch speculates that Apple, Inc., maker of the popular iPhone smart phone and iPad computing device, may intend to create a rival to Google Earth for one of its mobile platforms. However, he admits that Apple may just be acquiring new talent to add to the staff it gained from PlaceBase, a Los Angeles-based mapping startup that Apple bought last September.