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Apple bids to boost Maps with acquisition of crowdsourced data startup Locationary

Apple recently inked a deal to acquire crowdsourced location data startup Locationary, according to All Things D.

An Apple spokesman confirmed the deal, saying in a statement published by ATD that, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Neither Apple nor Locationary immediately responded to a request for comment.

Though its intentions were not revealed, Apple's move to snag the Toronto-based data company is likely intended to help boost its struggling Maps product, which the Cupertino tech giant admitted "fell short" of its commitment to making world-class merchandise.

CEO Tim Cook publicly apologised in late September, even suggesting that users, in the meantime, use rival applications like Bing, MapQuest, and Waze (since acquired by Google).

A "work in progress," Apple Maps has inspired a Tumblr blog and a parody Twitter account.

Locationary serves as a sort of Wikipedia for local business listings, as ATD put it, using crowdsourcing and the data exchange platform Saturn to collect, merge, and verify information on companies around the world.

By ensuring positional and temporal accuracy, Locationary could help Apple patch the holes it left open last autumn, like telling users to drive into the ocean or onto an airport runway. Plus, including Locationary data like whether or not a restaurant is still open for business could help Apple compete with directories like the Yellow Pages, ATD noted.

After the launch of Apple Maps last autumn, Locationary CEO Grant Ritchie took to TechCrunch to offer thoughts on the five biggest mapping problems the Cupertino-based firm needed to solve. His suggestions focused on the aggregation, standardisation, and merging of local data — all difficult tasks for even one of the most powerful tech companies in the world, he said.

The terms of Apple's deal were not disclosed.