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.
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.