Apple has started to operate a local business portal in the United States that allows local shop owners to add their location to Apple Maps, claim an existing business and update its data.
The platform allows local shops to disclose their precise location, opening hours, Facebook, Twitter Yelp and website addresses as well as classify themselves in one or several business categories.
The self-serving platform is available inside Apple Maps Connect which also includes, Indoor, the platform where large venues can add their indoor maps (read more here).
The platform is only available in the United States but it already allow to check data for other countries covered by Apple Maps, in a read-only mode.
Rather than completely relying on a data supplier such as Yelp, Apple is taking over the direct link with shop owners to form its POI database. This new channel will surely help to improve POI accuracy, something that is an important aspect in the overall perceived quality of its map.
This local business portal is likely to become an important tool for local shop owners. According to Comscore, there were 42 million adult users of Apple Maps last June (against 64.5 million for Google Maps mobile).
The ultimate question is whether Apple will be interested in the longer run to leverage this direct channel with shop owners to sell advertising. Let’s not forget that Apple is also running something called iAd.