The map data coverage is fine for probably most users. For those users it is inadequate for, however, it renders maps completely useless.
However, it is fundamentally flawed in the most important area: Search. The search just isn't good enough to come anywhere near comparison to Google Maps. Apple need to be focussing 90% of their efforts to catch up here - a tall order.
So Apple didn't do anything amazing with their vector based maps, it was just new for their platform.
For me, that's not just a showstopper, it's barely even a minimum viable product.
Apple's maps are a clear second best, giving the impression they skimped on usability testing.
I suspect this is exactly the point Cue made when he fired him. They are looking for someone who can put in place the plan and team to deliver a Maps app that is superior to Google Maps over the long term, not this time next year.
In most companies, firings are very confidential affairs, and nobody ever needs to know that you were fired (usually, companies have a policy that they will only confirm the dates of employment of a former employee and nothing else).
I understand that it's public news when a large public corporation fires its CEO or perhaps a C-level executive. But I don't think that someone outside that level needs to relinquish their basic privacy rights over their employment history.
If you mean that no one within Apple should have known about the firing, that's not realistic. At the least his reports would find out right away, as would (probably) everyone else who directly interacts with him.
This sort of comment always ruins the fantasy for me. Its pretty rare, because it's often ill advised, to replace the "entire management team" unless you're completely changing the direction of the product. However, it is often the fantasy of engineers working on a team that has execution issues that the company would just "fire all the managers and let us get our work done." That fantasy comes from not knowing what the managers actually did, and that usually comes from poor communication.
Outside management would not know who was doing what, or how well they were doing it. So replacing all of them is like changing six different things in a misbehaving program and hoping the bug will go away. If it doesn't you wasted time, if it does you have no idea which of the six things fixed it.
The solution here is pick one person to lead the effort and manage them. Give them a clear mission, whether its 'ground truth' (accuracy), glitz, or feature parity. Set standards for quality, and then let them get it done.
Nothing in my career has been more frustrating than having a senior manager tell me "We want you to solve this problem..." and then when I came back and said "Ok, I need this, this, and this." and gotten push back from them? If the feedback doesn't come back as a discussion, and instead comes back as a simple denial, that is when you realize the problem isn't at your level :-).
I doubt Williamson was fired specifically for the launch product. Perhaps there has been internal issues since trying to rectify.
But that's not how Apple can afford to look at it. It's not just bad relative to Google Maps, but also bad compared to the previous version of Maps on iOS. The end result is it harmed Apple's credibility. With a single "upgrade," functionality that people came to depend on was gone. Completely removed. And don't for a minute think this is just ranting and raving from the tech crowd. There were signs well ahead of the release from people.
Sure, there might have been other issues. With cases like this, their usually are. But these issues resulted in Maps.
The correct thing to do would have been to renew the Google contract and release both apps, and let the users decide when Apple's new one was good enough.