Apple has reportedly acquired Swedish 3D mapping company C3 Technologies in a bid to beef-up the mapping capabilities on iOS and reduce its dependence on Google Maps.

Apple has not confirmed the deal but reports originating from 9to5 Mac suggest the deal was quietly concluded back in August and that C3’s senior management team are already working within Apple’s iOS division. VentureBeat estimates the price tag at US$240 million. 

The apparent purchase of C3 follows a string of other recent acquisitions in the mapping space by Apple, including the purchases of Placebase in 2009 and, in 2010, of Ploy9 – another 3D mapping firm.

This activity suggests Apple is looking to break away from Google Maps, which it has used as a default mapping tool on all its iOS devices to date, replacing it with its own in-house solution, tentatively known as iOS Maps. "C3′s solutions are so powerful and remarkable, and would truly transform Apple’s basic Google Maps application into something entirely new, fun, and powerful," declared 9to5 Mac.

C3 describes itself as “the leading provider of 3D mapping solutions, offering photo-realistic models of the world for search, navigation and geographic information systems.”

The Sweden-based company’s “automated software and advanced algorithms” enable C3 to "rapidly assemble extremely precise 3D models, and seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images.”

Venture-backed C3 was spun out of the Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab AB in 2007. The following video – produced by Saab – explains how the technology works.