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Apple Acquired Coherent Navigation To 'Own' The Consumer Wallet

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May 18, 2015 2:30 pm
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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) picked up another little-known startup over the weekend.

The company confirmed that it acquired Coherent Navigation, a GPS startup that developed commercial navigation services for a number of big-name partners. According to The New York Times, Boeing Co (NYSE: BA) was among the firms that used its technology.

CoherentNavigation.com is no longer active, but it is unclear when the site was taken offline. The firm’s LinkedIn page indicates that it employed no more than 10 individuals before the acquisition.

Apple’s involvement is news to the public, but the deal might have been finalized several months ago. Paul G. Lego, CEO of Coherent Navigation, updated his own LinkedIn page to show that he has been part of the Apple Maps Team since January 2015.

Interestingly, Coherent Navigation is not just a firm that could bolster Apple’s mapping efforts. According to the NYT report, the company has worked on robotics projects as well as those involving autonomous navigation.

“We believe mapping and GPS technology is key to future apps and owning more of the consumer wallet,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives told Benzinga. “This could be a sign of more things to come in iPhone 7 and also helps open up another path for automotive and smartphone growth over the coming years. We expect to hear more about this at the developer conference.”

Related Link: How Apple Could Help Tesla By Building A Car

‘A Big Deal’

Sean Udall, CIO of Quantum Trading Strategies and author of The TechStrat Report, said this acquisition is “a big deal.” He thinks Apple could benefit from a company that helps consumers navigate faster and more easily.

“Don’t think of this as a simple direction thing, think of the business implications,” Udall told Benzinga. “It’s everything from navigation in the store, to where’s this particular store inside of this huge mall?”

Udall believes Coherent Navigation’s technology could help Apple build better mapping apps both indoors and outdoors.

“There’s been many times where I’ve been at the Venetian [casino] and it takes me 45 minutes to find some place I want to find,” Udall added. “And that’s if, from your room, you know where the thing is. If you get turned around a couple times, a 35-minute thing can easily turn into an hour. All of a sudden you’re like, ‘Where is this place? I can’t find it.'”

Casinos knowingly present a maze-like atmosphere to ensure players are exposed to as many games as possible, but that can be a problem.

“They want you to meander, they want you to wander,” Udall explained. “However, if somebody actually wants to go to the baccarat room because there’s a tournament and they end up missing the tournament, that’s lost revenue for the casino. And it’s a poor outcome for the guest.”

As far as other indoor locations, Udall said that Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ: COST), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and malls could benefit from better navigation, which would allow consumers to shop faster.

“I don’t think it ever needs to get you less than a foot from something,” Udall concluded. “But if navigation can get you within, I’d say a meter or two, you’re saving people a lot of time.”

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

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