Apple CEO Tim Cook has apologised for Maps. The response to his letter has been varied. Some have said Jobs would never have apologised (they’re wrong), and my Twitter feed was full of people claiming Cook wasn’t really apologising, or that he should have done something more.
I’d say anyone expecting some kind of grovelling apology combined with no positive spin whatsoever is being naïve, not only from an expectation standpoint regarding what Apple should or would do, but from what any company would do. What we got from Cook was instead a mostly unambiguous statement and apology, with a little added reasoning, and something that I consider a major surprise that few rival corporations would do.
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.
The main apology. Right to the point, and admitting Apple fell short of the quality you’d expect. This is beyond what many companies would bother with.
We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.
More or less the “Google wouldn’t give us…” bit, but it outlines and confirms Apple’s reasoning. Fair enough, but I’ll bet Eric Schmidt wasn’t happy with this.
There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. 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.
Outlining the fact not everyone thinks Maps is a disaster. From what I’m hearing, the experience isn’t globally awful, just massively inconsistent. So: a bit of positive spin, which you’d expect. What I’d never have expected 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.
Reread that paragraph. There’s Cook, in a public letter, providing information about five rivals. I cannot think of anything similar from other tech giants. (If you can, let me know in the comments.) On Twitter, a couple of people noted Waze is one of the companies providing Apple with data, but I don’t think that’s really relevant. Apple’s essentially saying that if Maps is screwing up your experience, try an alternative. Of course, this in itself is nuanced: “Our platform has such richness that if you don’t like our solution, you can try another.”
One thought: had Google actually had its own Maps app ready at this point, would it have been included in this statement that’s now big news worldwide?
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.
Here’s hoping, but I feel a little more optimistic about Maps now. Time will tell if Apple can deliver on this promise