Apple boss 'extremely sorry' for new map app
Users make light of unusual misstep by world's most valuable company
The Associated Press
Posted: Sep 28, 2012 10:15 AM ET
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2012 2:05 PM ET
Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company is "extremely sorry" for the frustration its Maps application has caused and it's doing everything it can to make it better. In the meantime, he recommended that people use competing map applications to get around.
Cook said in a letter posted online Friday that Apple "fell short" of its commitment to make the best products for its customers.
"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," Cook said.
The Cupertino, Calif., company released an update to its iPhone and iPad operating system last week that replaced Google Maps with Apple's own map application. But users complained that the new map software offers fewer details, lacks public transit directions and misplaces landmarks, among other problems.
Users have been flocking to social media to complain and make fun of the app's glitches, which included judging landscape features by their names. The hulking Madison Square Garden arena in New York, for instance, shows up as green park space because of the word "Garden."
It's an unusual misstep for Apple, the world's most valuable company. Apple prides itself on releasing best-of-class products, but there have been mishaps —even under founder and late CEO Steve Jobs, whose dogged perfectionism is legendary.
Precedent for apology
A company apology, analysts believe, would likely have happened under Jobs, too.
"I think they are clearing the air and, more importantly, clarifying why they had to do their own maps," says Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who's followed Apple for more than three decades. He pointed to the infamous "antennagate" issue of 2010.
A problem with the iPhone 4's antenna was causing reception issues when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand. Then-CEO Jobs apologized at the time, though denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Apple quickly recovered.
'Had Apple and Tim Cook and team introduced the maps as a work-in-progress, they wouldn't have the backlash.'—Tim Bajarin, Creative Strategies analyst
In his letter, Cook said Apple built a new version of its Maps product to give users what they've been asking for. The new app includes turn-by-turn directions, voice integration and a 3-D Flyover feature.
Google's map application for the iPhone did not give turn-by-turn directions or voice-guided navigation, although its version for Android devices does. Google didn't license its turn-by-turn technology to Apple.
Google, says Bajarin, simply "wouldn't give it" because the turn-by-turn feature gave devices running Google's Android software an obvious advantage over Apple. Maps and navigation are among the most-used features of smartphones.
Cook said Apple's Maps will get better as more people use the app and provide feedback. That's true for all digital maps. Google's wasn't perfect when it launched, but got better over the years as users pointed out mistakes and helped the company collect its vast trove of data used to perfect it.
"Ultimately, what (Apple) discovered early on is that Google had access to 100 million iOS users who helped them build the Google Maps database, Bajarin said. "At some point Apple had to put its foot down."
'You can try alternatives'
It came time, he added, for Apple to own their Maps customers — and not Google.
But now, Cook is recommending that users look at other options — including Google's map service.
"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 wrote.
Could Apple have avoided the Maps debacle? Bajarin thinks so. After all, the company released Siri, its oft-derided virtual assistant, noting that it was still a work-in-progress and would get better over time. Customers understood.
"Had Apple and Tim Cook and team introduced the maps as a work-in-progress, they wouldn't have the backlash," he says.
Apple released the iPhone 5 last week and on Monday it said it sold more than 5 million of them in three days. Although the number is a record for any phone, it was fewer than analysts expected.
On Friday, shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. closed down $14.22 to $667.10 amid a broader market decline.
Top News Headlines
- 2 men jailed in Dominican wedding fight return to Canada
- Two Canadian men who were detained in the Dominican Republic for nearly three weeks after a post-wedding fight broke out at a resort have returned to Toronto, the latest step in a drama that the wife of one of the men said was "like a scene from the movies." more »
- Senators call for 'zero tolerance' on harassment in RCMP
- The RCMP should amend its code of conduct to explicitly define and prohibit harassment, a Senate committee is recommending in a newly tabled report. more »
- Are e-cigarettes safe to puff?
- As electronic or e-cigarettes grow in popularity, some health advocates want them to be regulated. more »
- Most groups don't want return of Trudeau speaking fees
- Most of the 17 charitable and other organizations that have paid speaking fees to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during his time as an MP say they aren't interested in having their fees returned, despite Trudeau's offer on the weekend to reimburse any organization unhappy with his services. more »
Latest Business Headlines
- Tim Hortons being circled by Wall Street hedge funds
- At least two groups of American hedge funds have bought large chunks of Tim Hortons shares recently, a sign the activist investors want to push the company to make major changes to its business, or possibly give up some control over the company. more »
- Chrysler agrees to recall 2.9 million Jeep SUVs in U.S., Canada
- Chrysler avoided a showdown with U.S. government safety regulators Tuesday, agreeing to recall 2.7 million older Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs in the U.S. and 256,000 in Canada that could be at risk of a fuel tank fire. more »
- Leaders downplay reports of stalled Canada-EU trade talks
- Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his British counterpart, David Cameron, downplayed signs of trouble in the Canada-EU trade negotiations Tuesday, even as the European Union's spokesman suggested Canada hasn't shown enough "pragmatism and flexibility" at the table. more »
- Business jets dominate Bombardier's $2B in sales at air show
- Business jets dominated the aircraft orders announced by Bombardier on Tuesday, the second day of the Paris Air Show, accounting for most of the nearly $2 billion US worth of business that the Montreal-based company has done at the show — if all options are exercised. more »
- Crowdfunding websites trying to cash in on crowded field
- Success stories make it seem like crowdfunding websites drop cash from the heavens on to any deserving idea. But regulators and big banks are now taking a closer look at the controversial new field, Dianne Buckner writes. more »
Lang & O'Leary Exchange
The data on this site is informational only and may be delayed; it is not intended as trading or investment advice and you should not rely on it as such.
- Canadians in Dominican wedding fight freed from jail
- Huge ancient city at Angkor Wat revealed by lasers
- Montreal mayor resigns amid corruption charges
- TV chef Nigella Lawson's husband cautioned by police for assault
- Disabled woman's care before dying on bus still a mystery
- Student with bullied past, 'The Doorman,' graduates
- Parents of son 'brutally beaten' playing hockey want charges
- 'Standing man' inspires new, silent protests in Turkey
- G8 leaders agree to 7-point plan on Syria as summit wraps