Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Sep 2012 19:24 UTC
Apple "The major new feature of the company's new iOS 6 mobile operating system is a new mapping module developed by Apple itself - a replacement for the Google-supplied maps that have been standard on the iPhone since it debuted in 2007. It is a change borne not of user demand, but of corporate politics: Google's Android platform is the biggest competitive threat to the iPhone, so Apple is cutting ties with Google. iPhone owners might have loved Google Maps, but Apple has no love for Google. Unfortunately, Apple's new maps are simply not as good as Google's." That's putting it mildly - my own town barely even exists on Apple's maps. It's basically a trainwreck, and according to The Verge, Apple has been working on this for the past five years. This is what happens when a company cares more about stupid grudges than its customers. Considering how much effort it has taken Google to get where it is now with maps, don't expect Apple's maps to even get near Google Maps any times soon. This isn't going to take months - this is going to take several years, if at all.
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RE[2]: My, my...
by Neolander on Sat 22nd Sep 2012 08:20 UTC in reply to "RE: My, my..."
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I think that is unlikely, What is very likely is that the iPhone 5 will sell more and at a faster rate than it's predecessors, that the iPhone will supplant the iPhone 4 as the best selling handset globally, that a majority of iOS users will upgrade to iOS 6 very quickly (it's already passed 15% after just a couple of days compared to Android 4.1 which has only inched to 1.5% in three months), that Apple will show strong growth this quarter and have another record breaking holiday quarter and that Apple will incrementally improve maps and catch Google faster than Thom thinks it will and that in the next few weeks and months there will be a slew of interesting and innovative mapping apps released on iOS. In two years iOS will be the mapping platform.

Please, calm down, and make proper use of paragraphs and punctuation. When you are typing with too much religious hatred in your mind, your posts tend to become unreadable... And also to, intentionally or not, miss the point that one was trying to make !

So, well, I'm gonna start over more slowly.

It is not the first time that Apple has launched an unfinished product. One can, as an example, think of the Apple III, the last few releases of Mac OS Classic and the first few releases of OS X, iOS 4 on old hardware, those insufficiently cooled Macbook Pros that burned their GPUs, or the iPhone 4's defective antennas. Each time, it has sent them into quite a bit of trouble, but generally not financial one.

That is because Apple have managed to build themselves an extremely loyal user base, which tends to forgive such mistakes. The innocent ones will buy the product without knowing and convince themselves that it must be good, since it comes from Apple. The smart ones will read reviews, think "Heh, nobody is perfect", and wait for the next one or buy from someone else in the meantime. And the stupid ones will knowingly buy a defective product, full of hope that things will improve over time as they give Apple a financial incentive to leave it as is.

But such forgiveness only lasts so long, and that's what brings me to the trouble that Apple are in. Whether they choose to fix existing devices or not is up to them, in the past they have mostly left them as is in favour of improving the next generation. However, make no mistake, this "next gen" better be a serious improvement.

And that is where problems start for Apple: normally, they would just need to spend extra effort on hardware and software design so as to avoid making the same mistakes. And, simultaneously, add up some impressive new features and spend more on marketing so as to restore their brand image. But this time, they have a problem, which is that their failed product cannot reasonably be fixed in a single iOS release cycle. A mapping service database has just too much inertia to be fixed in a single year with Apple's usual closed and secretive development practices. No matter how much engineers they put on it, they won't manage.

So, what are the options for them ?
-Silently switch back to Google Maps' databases and sell it as "Apple's new and improved super-secret database". Honestly, I wish they won't : Google control too much already, and a bit of competition wouldn't be a bad thing. It also seems alien to Apple's culture to give control back on a part of their product that they have acquired.
-Launch a public campaign, asking every iOS user to report whatever mapping issue they can find, perhaps providing financial incentives for that using all that cash that they have recently extorted from Samsung. This could work pretty well, but that would be indirectly admitting that Maps is still under beta test after launching it as final. Apple are generally too cocky to do that.
-Come up with something unrelated to maps, that is truly impressive enough to make people forget about the terrible quality of their Maps application. There's nothing incompatible with Apple's culture there, so perhaps that's what is gonna happen. It would be sad, though.

In any case, Apple have a lot of work to do, and this is what I mean by trouble. For the past two iPhone releases, they have been resting on their laurels, rehashing the same old hardware designs and playing catch-up on the software and power front. Now, they have trapped themselves in an awkward situation, where they will have to actually innovate to survive. And that, in turn, means that highly interesting times are ahead for the tech world.

I'm just sad at the perspective that Apple, if they choose to pursue their in-house mapping strategy, will likely make sure that no one outside of their ecosystem will benefit from it. The current trend in the computing world to hide every important information within the in-house silos of a few big companies is frightening.

Edited 2012-09-22 08:31 UTC

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