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Google has spent a long time pouring a ton of money and manpower into their geocoder and the data behind it. It's completely unsurprising that Apple is not able to match their quality. It will be an iterative process that improves as they get more usage data to leverage.

That said, your example is pretty shocking considering Apple's historically stringent quality standards.




I feel dirty playing the J card, but...

It this something that would have happened with Steve at the helm? I mean, the business case for moving off of your competitor's flagship map product is clear. You want to get them out of your product development cycle, you want to deny them revenue, you want to dilute their brand. I get that.

But still, Apple is ultimately achieving this by pushing what seems to be universally regarded as an inferior product out to its customers. It's basically a downgrade. When has Apple ever done that before?

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"It this something that would have happened with Steve at the helm?"

Do you think Apple hasn't been working in this direction since before Steve left the helm?

Placebase acquisition: Jul 2009

Poly 9 acquisition: Jul 2010

C3 acquisition: Aug 2011

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Yes, but when do you declare the quality high enough for release?

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Ok we're ending random speculation territory but it was widely reported that the Google Maps agreement expired this year so there was no huge decision about when to release -- it was always going to go live with the 2012 phone.

I mean obviously if it was a disaster they would have to go back and cut another deal with Google (or Nokia/MS) but it now becomes obvious why they held back turn by turn from the old Maps app for so long. Because you can legitimately argue that 6.0 Maps with some weak spots that can be improved over time but with turn by turn plus possibly Google Maps in the App store is better then 5.0 Maps powered by Google's superior data but without turn by turn.

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Wasn't the agreement renewed at the late-in-the-game last year? Is there any reason to think Google would have turned down a renewal (on the previous terms, we know there was friction over new features) this year?

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I'll plead ignorance if it was up last year although just shifts the thinking above. So let's say Apple Maps was planned for 2011 but by wwdc they realized releasing in 2011 would be a huge disaster so they had to go back to google for another year.

As far as Google I'd guess they would have been fine to continue powering the default Maps app. Google's price might have gone up from 2007 but the quality increased by a similar amount.

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Apple has done it a lot of times before (like most companies).

I think the maps feature that Apple believed they could produce, at the time they made the decision, was probably very different from the maps feature they were actually able to produce.

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That's a fair point, software projects have schedule problems all the time, even for Apple. But if anything it's an even more serious indictment of the executive decision making: the product didn't work out the way they hoped, and they shipped it anyway. Again, would that have happened in the days of the reality distortion field?

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As a non transit user, I see the addition of the turn by turn (especially with Siri integration) as a plus and don't miss the transit at all. So I wouldn't say it is universally inferior.

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I agree. I'd add that on the iOS platform, there are significantly better transit apps than the maps app for the bigger European cities like London etc.

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Mission Control

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MobileMe

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Ping?

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To use ajross's term, Ping wasn't a "downgrade". Ping was more of a lead zeppelin.

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Final Cut Pro X was panned by many professional users as being a downgrade.

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iTunes

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say what you will with iTunes but I don't really find it so bad as all the hate being written about it would seem to suggest. yeah it could be slimmer but it runs well and relatively flawlessly, and does a decent job of organizing. and I have to spend less time configuring it than foobar.

iPhoto however, I think, could use some rethinking...

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iTunes may have become a bloated mess, but it's one of the key reasons for the success of the iPod and by extension the iPhone.

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