Apple CEO Apologizes for Maps, Promotes Third Party Apps

On Friday Apple finally decided to react to the tsunami of complaints and bad reviews about the new version of its Map product in iOS 6.

CEO Tim Cook wrote on the Apple website:

“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.“

He also straightforwardly offered Apple customers to find alternative to Maps on the app store and on the web: “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.“

The map problem however did not refrain Apple customers to buy five million iPhone 5 in three days and iOS 6 to pass the bar of 100 million downloads.

Better Data or Better Data Implementation?

The message of Tim Cook is however a bit misleading when he writes: “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.“

As far as we know the crowd-sourcing part of the app is fairly limited, if existent at all. And, as we had already mentioned in our previous article, for its most part the problem here is not the map data itself, it is rather how the raw map database has been badly conflated from various sources and exposed to the user. As far as we know TomTom maps have always shown the London Paddington station at the right place and have the right name for Berlin, etc.

Apple Maps will not get better because they are more users, it will get better only if given the proper resources and expertise it needs to engineer a worldwide product and perform enough human-based quality testing before getting it out of the gate.

The map problem did however not refrain Apple customers to buy five million iPhone 5 in three days and iOS 6 to get 100 million downloads.

Indeed, it seems iPhone customers are somewhat used to cope with issues at start: as far as we can recall the iPhone 4 had a major issue with the antenna - that forced Apple to offer and ship a rubber case to all its customers - and the initial software of the 4S was draining the battery to zero in less than a day.

Actually, the bad map data quality sounds like - relatively speaking - a minor problem...

Ludovic Privat