Apple's Map apology: Humble, plugs other services, good enough

Apple's Map apology: Humble, plugs other services, good enough

Summary: Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology over iOS 6 Maps covered all the bases: It was humble enough to recommend other services and probably won the company some goodwill. No word on when iOS 6 will be up to snuff though.


Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered an apology over the iOS Maps quality and took things a bit farther by plugging other apps from Bing, MapQuest, Waze and Web services from Google and Nokia.

That's a fair dose of humility for Cook and Apple that will probably win it some goodwill against disgruntled customers, who incidentally are still buying iPhone 5s at a rapid clip.


Cook said Apple was "extremely sorry" for customers' iOS 6 Maps frustration. He noted that Apple had to create Maps from the ground up, but never addressed why. We all know the why anyway: Apple and Google compete and were trying to get an advantage.

The most compelling part of Cook's letter is this:

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Cook is basically acknowledging that its iOS Maps aren't in the big leagues. That may change, but for Apple to plug Nokia and Google the message of map frustration must have really hit home. Recommending other map programs had to hurt for Apple.

Is it time for a "classic" iOS Maps with Google data?

What's the aftermath here? Not much. Cook's apology was humble and frankly good enough to allay customers. The sales impact is likely to be nil.

In a research note Friday, Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, said:

We believe there are three points to consider around the iPhone 5 for December. First, we do not currently expect supply issues that would limit our 49 million estimate for the quarter. We continue to believe that by December, supply and demand for the phone should be close to equilibrium. Second, if supply issues do constrain December, we do not believe consumers will "give up" on the iPhone in favor of another phone. Third, consumer sentiment on the iPhone remains high despite reported issues with Apple Maps, which we believe suggests that the Maps product is not causing a user backlash.

The big question here is when will iOS 6 Maps be up to par. It's quite likely that an improved Maps won't be pushed until iOS 7. Apple has a year to make good on its apology and promise to do better.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone, Smartphones

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  • Smart Move

    Got to appreciate this. This is smart move by Apple. Many iPhone 5 users will be placated by the message.

    The right move would have been to pick an app from their store and give it free till the iOS maps get in shape.

    This pose a dilemma for iOS developers who want to provide map functionality.
    • That would not the right move, because the idea is to improve Apple's maps

      If consumers would only use other maps, Apple's maps will not become better.

      Also, Lawrence is wrong about Cook not explaining the reason why Apple had to change maps:

      "We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up."

      Google never delivered any of the features Timothy Cook listed in their version of maps for iOS. So Apple HAD NO CHOICE, really.
      • Please read through the lines!

        When I said right, I meant "right way to treat customers". Many people think that Apple is known for its "ecosystem", so not giving a full fledged map application makes that ecosystem incomplete.

        You are also correct that if more people do not use their maps, then it will not improve. In essence, Apple is asking the iPhone users to be its beta testers (the Maps are alpha quality actually). This is not a customer centric view point.

        "We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up."

        If you read the quoted text, you will realize that Mr Cook indirectly blames Google for the Maps app missing the functionality in its previous OSs. Nowhere has he provided any info about the licensing issues with Google. Mr Schmidt has indicated elsewhere that it was Apple's decision. Other articles provide info that there was one year of licensing left.

        Only top official from Google and Apple know about their licensing agreement. So we should not speculate one way or the other, and it would be wrong to blame Google for not delivering.
        • Apple is way short of an ecosystem

          Apple has jumped the shark. Almost jumped it with Siri but most considered that a side bar.
          People rely on maps.
          Apple doesn't have an ecosystem - they have an app store. Google will ultimately dominate because Apple probably doesn't have 10 engineers who think about ecosystem.
          Google has an ecosystem - Google Docs for starters plus many Web apps that compete well with Web only companies.
          • You are absolutely right

            Apple has iTunes. That's it. Every single attempt at releasing something that wasn't absolutely tied to iTunes has been a colossal failure for Apple.
          • That isn't entirely true...

            Apple hasn't really tried to release anything not tried to iTunes so, it is really hard to say if they are failures.
          • The real problem

            People were right, No Steve Jobs and Apple starts to decline!

            This is only the second time I have seen evidence of such beta products being released. They would have been smarter to wait a few months with both Siri and Maps but, they are no doubt feeling the pressure from Android.

            Lets face it, Hangouts whoops FaceTime, Google Maps beats Apple Maps, and Google Now mostly pounds on Siri!
          • Apple declining?

            How is selling 5 million iPhone 5 in 3 days considered declining?

            For years now Google has been putting out beta software for their users to test and report back bugs. No problem. Apple decides to release their Maps app to their millions of users and suddenly the company is in decline? Maps could only get better from here on.
          • HA!

            with no one using it, how do you see it getting better?
      • Apple's Maps wasn't made by Google

        So your statement here is patently false:
        "Google never delivered any of the features Timothy Cook listed in their version of maps for iOS. So Apple HAD NO CHOICE, really."

        Apple *could* license turn-by-turn or other features but they choose not to because they will need to handout geo-location data to Google latitude. Instead, Apple do their own Google Latitude - Find My Friends.

        It was Apple's refuse to license the feature, not the other way around.
        • Mostly right..

          There were fundamental issues between the two that divided them.

          "AllThingsD’s sources claim that Apple wanted turn-by-turn, and that Google was reluctant to give up a key competitive advantage for Android. Google also wanted more control over Maps on iOS and its attendant features, including clear Google branding within the native iOS maps app, and the addition of friend-finding geolocation service Google Latitude. Apple didn’t want Google having so much access to users of its platforms, the report says, hence the eventually decision to part ways."
        • No, Apple could not; Google wanted some features only for itself

          Hence Apple had no choice.
          • Yes, Apple could. They just refused to agree to Google terms

            You just stuck in the false dilemma in your head.

            They have made their choice.

            They put their sense of total control freak ahead of customer experience and couldn't agree to the terms the Google had offer. This is their *CHOICE*

            They can even put the maps app on beta for another year for better improvement since their terms with Google have yet to expire for another year.

            But they choose switch the back end and force it on end users.

            This is their CHOICE too.
          • Each contract has two sides

            Both sides should agree to all terms. It's not that Apple has no choice (as evidenced by the current Apple Maps -- way ahead technologically from what Google has).

            But yes, it is about choice.
          • Apple maps Way ahead in technology?

            At a granular level (maybe). In the real world, no.
          • Are you smoking something?

            Danbi, you must be on something! Nobody has as much data as Google in Mapping! There are 7000 full time employees that work on maps alone! You can fanboy all day long but that isn't going to make a single thing you say true.

            The level of detail apple provides in pictures could be supplied by Google maps but, they weren't dumb enough to try that and now Apple Maps provides superior image detail but it takes 10x longer to load even a simple image!
          • I think Apple always had a choice

            it's just that they didn't want what Google was offering, instead they wanted it all.

            But what they already had was a mess, and so they had to make a choice: give their customers a nice, useable experience with what Google offered Apple, or burden them with something so poor that the CEO had to apologize for it.

            I think the choice was obvious, but Apple chose their wants over their customers expectations.

            The fact that Tim Cook is apologizing is an indication they they know they were making the wrong choice, but really didn't care because they knew they were going to sell millions of iPhones anyway, so whats the big deal.
            NoMore MicrosoftEver
      • Wrong

        Apple had a CHOICE. iOS is THEIR system. THEY make it. The choice was made and now that's that. Apple fully knew the risks and took them anyway, just like changing the connector plug. Eventually Apple's own map solution may equal Google maps, but not for a while. Ideology trumps user experience...
        • In fact

          If Apple are serious about it and it seems, because of this Tim Cook message they are -- then their Maps solution will turn to be way better than Google's.
          • In fact....

            You're defying the natural progress and technological evolution. Apple is Jesus Christ, it can't part the Red Sea, it can't turn stone into wine. They can't make a map comparable to Google's map that took Google 7+ years in a short period, say, under 5 years. At the same time, Google will continue to progress. Apple will never catch up, at least not by the time MOST people ditch Apple phones and go for an Android or Windows phone. PERIOD.