Apple’s Business Connect may be at a disadvantage

In the battle for business listings, Apple is up against Google and Yelp.

But Apple’s new business tool announced on Wednesday (January 11) — despite being free — could come with a downside from the start.

As reported, the new Business Connect feature allows small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to edit their listings, which are displayed across Apple’s various online apps – with that edited, customizable information in things like Siri or the tech giant’s wallet to appear.

We note that the January announcement is an Apple Maps tweak, and in terms of mechanics, Connect allows these SMBs to “manage their information (store hours, etc.) directly in the interactive Apple Maps place map” and also allow customers can order food or make reservations directly in Maps.

Borrow a page from the competition?

In these and other features, Business Connect borrows a page (pun intended) from companies like Google, which have allowed businesses to do this in search and on the map.

Apple was in the process of developing its own search engine, as reported by sites like MacRumors (despite Google paying Apple billions of dollars), so having a captive audience here would be a boon for those efforts. But as it stands now, Google is of course the default search engine for Apple, so it would likely take a long time to oust or go against Google Maps and Yelp — both for the SMBs themselves and for the consumers who search for them online.

Apple has also been rumored to be exploring ways to integrate displays into maps. An improved capability for maps – via the Connect tool – could be one way to set the stage for that eventuality.

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Apple’s focus on software and services has been a strategy for years and will determine the company’s fortunes in the long term. At the moment, however, there is a lot of headwind. As noted earlier, Apple’s service revenue was $19.2 billion last quarter, up 5%. This growth rate used to be in the double-digit percentage range.

There is some headwind

CEO Tim Cook noted on the call that “we’ve hit another record in our installed base of active devices,” but elsewhere management has noted that digital advertising has been an area of ​​softness.

Macro headwinds aside, the fact that Apple is known for and trying to create its ecosystem can prove to be a competitive disadvantage in pursuing business listings and eventually monetizing them. In the US, Apple has about a 50% market share in mobile phones – so roughly speaking, the revamped maps/business tools within that ecosystem would only reach about 50% of the total addressable market. What ultimately matters is the installed base, which ultimately underpins the success of ad serving while also keeping business listings fresh.

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