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Apple's wrong turn with Maps

Posted on September 28, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Today, Apple's CEO Tim Cook issued a long, beautifully written letter of apology to its legions of customers, acknowledging what the blogosphere has been lampooning for days----their badly executed Maps feature.  I found it interesting for a couple of reasons.


1)  Though I myself am not an Apple devotee*, I love and respect the brand.  Who doesn't?  They are the picture of smart innovation, precision, gorgeous-design-as-brand, brilliant retail, brilliant digital, the list goes on.  I'd love to work on a Mac, but being a cheapskate, can't justify the premium upcharge.  (My kids have no trouble with this, clearly.)  Most of the time, watching Apple in the marketplace is like watching ballet.  So when they stumble, it's really something.  Though their initial PR response was clumsy (basically, "hey, we knew Maps would be a big undertaking...it's not that bad....you'll get used to it...."), Cook's second try is right on.  It's as humble as Apple can be, fully acknowledging their misstep, and offering concrete solutions.  Their hope clearly is that they can quiet the masses. 


2)  Anyone who knows me knows I'm terribly directionally-challenged.  For years, I religiously printed out MapQuest directions and then prayed I didn't steer off course knowing if I did I'd be totally screwed.  So with my new Android (my iPhone wannabe) the Maps feature has meant I show up to appointments on-time and less frazzled than I used to.  So, to my teenaged boys to whom I've had to (repeatedly) justify why I bought Android and not the twice-as-expensive iPhone, all I can say is "This Maps feature works. Can iPhone say that?"


The screen shots of iPhone's Maps goofs are hilarious.  I'm still not clear as to why Apple decided to reinvent the wheel, start from square one, etc, when Google has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can do navigation.  Was it good ol' Apple arrogance that they believed they could one-up Android?  I've seen other brands jump off from something that was working to something home-grown that doesn't work as well (hello, Target.com) and I always wonder....what was Plan B?


*The only Apple product I own is a 1G iPod relic which carries my 27 workout songs on it. There, now you know how truly square I am.


Here is Cook's apology in its entirety:  http://www.apple.com/letter-from-tim-cook-on-maps/

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