On the Apple Maps app disaster

The problem in a nutshell is that Apple dropped their old Maps app from the iPhone and iPad upgrades because it uses Google Maps services. Instead, they are trying to create their own mapping service from scratch.

And it’s a disaster.

For example, in my neighborhood the maps don’t even show the block numbers, which is like leaving out street names in the U.S.

There are postings all over the Internet about this, including entire cities left off the map, roads which go crashing into Boulder Dam, the Washington Monument in the wrong location, airports listed where they don’t exist (causing the government in that area to warn of the dangers) – the list is endless.

Apple’s take on this is that “this is new and it will take time to get right.” Right for whom? It was already right for the users, but it galled Apple to have to use Google services. And now Apple mobile users who upgrade to iOS 6 (or get a new iPhone 5) are left with unusable maps.

I actually use the (old) maps all the time, to find stores, or locations to meet friends, etc. I just walk and follow the blue dot.

This is the first time I have seriously thought of changing my iPhone (whose contract expires next month) to something other than an iPhone. I’m still not sure what to do, but the whole closed, “fanboy” cult-like culture of Apple is really getting on my nerves. I’ll probably need to keep using an iPhone for some practical reasons (like upgrading apps), but I’m not at all convinced that Apple is the most innovative company for things like this anymore. They may have already peaked.

Here are some quotes from a NY Times column about this:

More to the point, Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not as good as those from rivals. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer, nimbler competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.

Even before Jobs died, Apple was becoming a company whose main goal was to defend its business model. Yes, he would never have allowed his minions to ship such an embarrassing application. But despite his genius, it is unlikely he could have kept Apple from eventually lapsing into the ordinary. It is the nature of capitalism that big companies become defensive, while newer rivals emerge with better, smarter ideas.

“Oh my god,” read one Twitter message I saw. “Apple maps is the worst ever. It is like using MapQuest on a BlackBerry.”

MapQuest and BlackBerry.



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