Tim Cook's Mea Culpa on Maps; admits it 'fell short'

Tim Cook's Mea Culpa on Maps; admits it 'fell short'

Summary: Apple finally came out with a real statement on the iOS 6 Maps fiasco directly from the desk of Tim Cook. In it, a conciliatory Cook apologizes and says the company is doing "everything we can" to make it better. Too little, too late. Apple needs to re-release the old Maps app.

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TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone
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Tim Cook apologizes for Mapgate - Jason O'Grady

Apple just released this statement on Mapgate from Tim Cook:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

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.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

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.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

It's an honest and straightforward response from the Apple CEO, after a long week of being battered in the media for what even traditionally pro-Apple journalists have said "may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed."

But is it enough? ZDNET's Larry Dignan thinks so, saying that Cook's apology is "good enough to allay customers" emphasizing that "the sales impact is likely to be nil." True, but Apple took a huge PR hit in the process, causing even Apple loyalists to question the wisdom of the decision. Apple's decision is analogous to the NFL's decision to lock out its referees and use substandard replacements -- and we all know how well that worked out.

NFL Replacement Referees a black eye to the league - Jason O'Grady

Sure, there are mapping alternatives for iOS, and some are free (Waze, MapQuest, TeleNav) but they're not the caliber of app that users have come to expect with iOS 5 Maps. True alternatives (like my personal favorite TomTom) cost money -- and not $1 kind of money. The U.S. & Canada version of TomTom costs $60 and is far from an impulse purchase.

Some Apple wags maintain that Apple didn't have a choice and had to switch horses for iOS 6, but I disagree. Apple could have used the remaining year that it had on its contract with Google to keep the old Maps app intact and release the new product as "Apple Maps" or "Maps Pro" as a free beta until it got the kinks worked out. Much like it did with Siri (which is still in beta).

Apple could end the controversy tomorrow by re-releasing its old iOS 5 Maps app (with Google data) as "Classic Maps" and include it in the default installation of iOS 6.0.1. By making new Maps an optional beta (at least until its contract with Google expires) it removes the stigma that it's forcing users to adopt an inferior product. 

What would you do about Mapgate if you were Tim Cook?

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone

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83 comments
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  • No, it's not enough

    N/T
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • IOS maps is not as bad as media makes it out to be

    First, I have been using IOS6 Maps for months since betas. From my usage I found that it is accurate in all my tests Yes there are places that it does not find, errors in 3D mode, yes. The turn by turn with voice is great, in fact it is a joy to use. Much better than the old IOS5 map, where you have to look at the phone to see where to go For a majority of IOS users these new maps app is fantastic and they will enjoy it. For others it will be painful as errors in data will need to be corrected.
    johnsuarez10
    • According to Apple, 99% of Apple's maps is accurate, but even 1% that ...

      ... remains inaccurate was enough to stir media controversy.

      Yet for 99% of users new maps are perfect, and those users FINALLY got turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based graphics -- things that Google REFUSED to provide for years and years.
      DDERSSS
      • Spatial data quality metrics

        o Accuracy: Spatial, temporal, thematic
        o Resolution: Spatial, temporal, thematic
        o Completeness
        o Consistency

        What on earth are you talking about?

        http://www.ncgia.ucsb.edu/education/curricula/giscc/units/u100/u100_f.html
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Wow...

        The Kool-Aid runs deep in you...
        Qbt
      • Even they got 99% accureate it's still useless

        If the search results are irrelevant.

        Two days ago I tested iPhone 5 and tried to search "Hospital" on Apple's Maps in my local electronic store, the closest location is a retirement home.

        Is that piece of data accurate? Probably. Is it a useful search result? No even close. In this case, it's that 1% that kills.
        Samic
        • Just done the same thing

          Hospital brought up the local NHS Trust aministrative HQ but no hospitals
          A&E brought up a local plastic fabricators and no hospitals
          Accident and Emergency brought up two instances but they were both over 150mi away!

          Really sub standard and like you say it's that 1% that in this instant could result in a loss of life
          filthydave
  • Tim Cook's Mea Culpa on Maps; admits it 'fell short'

    Spin it any way you want Tim but the maps still suck.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Should never have been released

      This one has "Metro" written all over it.
      klumper
  • Good suggestion....

    I know I am waiting to update my iPhone 4 to iOS 6, one - because of the maps, and two - because the WiFi issues that people have been experiencing. They can't get 6.01 out soon enough. Hopefully by then there is either a new Google Map app, or they bring back the old one. I will probably have my new Windows Phone before either of things happen and my iPhone will be just an iPod at that point.
    toph36
    • if that is all you are waiting for.. update now.

      I have 2 iPhone 4S models... the WiFi works better than it did in iOS5 and the Maps app is a HUGE leap forward from the crappy Google maps app. However, I would still use TeleNav as it is better than both. The Google Maps app was worthless since it didn't do turn by turn...at least the new one does that.
      Techdelirios
      • Did you see who you were responding to?

        "The Google Maps app was worthless since it didn't do turn by turn...at least the new one does that."

        Did you see who you were responding to?
        "I am waiting to update my iPhone 4 to iOS 6"

        For people like me and toph36 who have iPhone 4, this Maps app is a HUGE step backwards. We DON'T get turn by turn AND we are stuck with Apple's lousy data. This Maps app is a disaster for anyone with an iPhone 4.

        The sad thing is that I didn't realize how bad this was going to be when I "upgraded" to iOS 4.9 (Apple calls it iOS 6 but without Siri, turn-by-turn, or panorama, this is NOT iOS 6, more like a point upgrade) I had NO choice but to accept Maps because it is bundled and embedded into the kernel and I can't uninstall it. But that's okay, I have Navigon. What really upsets me is that I'm counted by Tim Cook as one of the 100 million "using" Apple Maps. I wish I could get myself subtracted off that number because I most certainly was never given a choice.
        toddbottom3
        • your

          your choice is to use a different phone. you made the choice to stay so burn baby burn...
          TimeForAChangeToBetter
          • Don't worry, I think he'll be okay.

            There is no hope on Earth that Bottom has an iPhone. I mean anything is possible, but toddbottom having bought an iPhone? At any point? Okay lets run with it...

            Maybe he did get one, maybe he's been burned by Apple and it's the reason for the endless hate and comment steering (and jobs-devil photo) It could be that He has a 4 and Apple have let him down which is why nigh on every post is anti-Apple, regardless of topic.

            Since iOS 6 has been out for a week and a half and his hate campaign dates back far further than that, it could be that he wanted to make sure he tried everything to get the best experience out of the phone... But he hardly went in with an open mind, maybe he was just looking for ammo?

            If that is the case I call utter hypocrite for continuing to use it... The amount of stress that phone must be causing you... You can get an internet enabled phone that does email for around £40 nowadays, half that if you hunt around eBay.

            Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but honestly, Toddy, if you're writing all the hate from Safari on an iPhone, that has secretly made me very happy inside.

            Of course if you have any other smartphone you can use, then the iOS6 fiasco need not affect you or your 4.
            MarknWill
        • Surprised

          Toddy,

          Why are you surprised that "Apple counted you to have iOS 6". Because you do. New OS, with new APIs. You just don't have few applications that Apple does not support on the old phones.

          Eventually, you will have your very own Lumia 920 (or 820), with the magical WP8 and the undoubtely best Nokia Maps (wonder, why all those other guys are in business). Let's not forget the Fairy Dust, too.

          So, what was your use of the old Maps anyway, that doesn't work now?
          danbi
          • You didn't read

            I said I didn't want to be counted as an Apple Maps user. This is response to Cook saying:
            "There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps"

            I have no choice but to be counted. Had I been given a choice, my iOS device would NOT be using Apple Maps.

            "what was your use of the old Maps anyway, that doesn't work now"

            Street view and much much much more accurate.
            toddbottom3
    • It's the data, not the app

      I am not an iPhone user. But from what I see so far, it's the data, not the map app, that is causing problems. It will be the same even if they launch iOS6 tomorrow.

      Google's map is so powerful because it is crowd sourced. And it takes years and millions of users to achieve that. For an example, see http://all-things-pure.blogspot.com/2012/09/apple-thought-mapping-was-easy.html.
      kingkong88@...
  • Apple vs Loverock

    Who's side to pick? That is a tough one.

    Anyway, what is your point? It was an apology, which is an admission that the maps do indeed "suck".

    The life of a blatant shill must be tough.
    D.T.Long
    • I was agreeing with Tim!

      Sheesh you Apple fanboys are never happy. You get mad when I don't agree with Apple, you get mad when I do agree with Apple.
      Loverock Davidson-
      • Huh?

        2 points:

        1. Me, an Apple fan boy? I do not own any Apple products and will not buy any. I cannot stand walled gardens designed to fleece you.

        2. You criticized his apology as "spin", but you aren't even smart enough to see that.

        Even as a shill, you are pathetic.
        D.T.Long