Apple has quietly purchased its own mapping company, in a move which will almost certainly see the company rely far less on Google Maps on its iPhone and other mobile devices in the future.

Apple bought PlaceBase earlier this summer according to a report in Computer World, with no public announcements made about the deal.

Customisable mapping

GigaOm noted the various benefits of PlaceBase over Google Maps way back in the summer of 2008, with the Apple-owned geolocation specialists offering lots more ways of customising your maps and layering data sets onto them via a simple API.

As ever with new technology from Apple, nobody outside of Cupertino HQ really knows anything concrete about the company's plans for its future mapping applications making use of PlaceBase's technology.

But we cannot wait to hear (and see) more. Perhaps we'll see some interesting new mapping apps with the launch of Apple's 'iTablet' in early 2010.

Or perhaps not. Let the rumour mill grind on...