When you really think about it, Apple had no choice!
So, there was one more year before the Google Maps contract between Google and Apple expired. But what exact date is that? Considering the fact that the first iPhone launched in June, it probably would have ended somewhere around June 2013.
So Apple either HAD to replace the maps now, or sign a new deal to ensure that iOS users aren't suddenly left MAPLESS!
Also consider the fact the Apple rolled out iOS 6 for iPhone 3GS. the 3GS gets absolutely nothing from the upgrade. No flyover, no turn by turn. There is no upgrade, just a downgrade. It was also surprising that Apple updated the phone at all. But again, Apple was selling the 3GS till this year. It had to be updated or it would suddenly be left Mapless.
I know, Apple could probably continue to support Google Maps even after the contract expires, but it would then have to pay the same fee as everyone else. And with such a large group of iOS users, they probably needed to get the majority of users off Google Maps ASAP.
(Now, a report may come out saying that the contract would've expired in 2014, but that's almost 2 years, not almost 1 year.)