Apple has acquired the French Canadian start-up mapping company Poly9 Group, reports Quebec daily newspaper Le Soleil.
Poly9 develops APIs using data from sources including Google Earth and MapQuest. According to the report, Apple had been one of Poly9's clients, as well as Microsoft, Yahoo and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and MSNBC.
The report also suggests that Apple has transferred the majority of the Poly9 workers to its California base, and has shut down the Quebec site.
Poly9 is the second such acquisition by Apple in the last 12 months - last July it purchased online mapping service Placebase.
With the acquisition, Apple plans to develop its data centre capacity by utilising Poly9's expertise in mapping and navigation.
Industry experts are speculating that due to Apple's deteriorating relationship with Google, the acquisition will be used to create a rival for the search giant's Google Maps, with the aim of replacing it as the default mapping application on its mobile hardware.