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Apple Reportedly Fires The Manager Directly In Charge Of The iOS 6 Maps Team (techcrunch.com)
46 points by tarekayna 1785 days ago | hide | past | web | 28 comments | favorite

I'm not sure what Apple is expecting here. 9 women can't make a baby in a month, and a billion dollars can't make a Google maps clone in a year. I think Apple maps is a really good product. But to expect it to be on par with Google maps is crazy.

It's a good product and in many ways better than the Google maps that existed previously on iOS (vector, 3D, Flyover).

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.

Google has vector based map data available, it just wasn't being used on the iphone's Google Maps. If I understand correctly, maps on Android use vector based data. They are working on a way for PC browsers to support vector based maps as well (called MapsGL[1]).

So Apple didn't do anything amazing with their vector based maps, it was just new for their platform.

[1] http://support.google.com/maps/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answe...

You are correct about the Android maps, and MapsGL isn't just something they're working on, it works now in the desktop browsers that support it.

As someone living in New York City, the lack of public transit integration is a complete showstopper.

And as someone living in Estonia, Apple Maps lists just one restaurant for the entire country (a McDonald's) and no hotels at all.

For me, that's not just a showstopper, it's barely even a minimum viable product.

I agree that the lacklustre search is a major issue. In addition to that, the information density is terrible in comparison to Google maps. Google maps uses colour, opacity, line thickness and other visual cues to distinguish roads. Road names are clear and legible, and a sensible algorithm is used to determine which to label when zooming out.

Apple's maps are a clear second best, giving the impression they skimped on usability testing.

True, though isn't that a data problem and not necessarily an engineering one? While the product manager for maps should have fought for search and transit features, everyone at Apple knew it wasn't there when they released it. Curious why he would have to take the fall for it; when leadership there is so top down, someone higher up must have OK'ed it. Though obviously I know none of the real context of course.

> 9 women can't make a baby in a month, and a billion dollars can't make a Google maps clone in a year.

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.

I feel that this news is a gross violation of Mr. Williamson's privacy.

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.

This news is not being officially revealed by Apple. More than likely the news spread very quickly within Apple, and then naturally leaked out. At my last company when someone was laid off every competing company knew about it within 30 minutes. Imagine how quickly it spread in a high-profile situation like this.

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.

I'm talking about Techcrunch and Bloomberg's decisions to report this as news, and the actions of whoever conveyed the information from within Apple to reporters.

It is news, of course... and news many people are actually interested in, not so much for the name of the guy (they could have left that out), but for what it says about Apple's reaction to the Apple Maps debacle: that they're taking it seriously and not just treating it as a PR issue.

Leaving out his name would have made all the difference.

"Cue intends to replace Williamson with an entirely new management team overseeing Maps, the report says."

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 :-).

Sure, Apple Maps was pretty bad relative to Google Maps, but it added a lot of great features. I think turn-by-turn is a great integration, 3D, among others, and will hopefully create a competition to be the best maps provider. Certainly given time, Apple Maps will be a viable contender.

I doubt Williamson was fired specifically for the launch product. Perhaps there has been internal issues since trying to rectify.

> Sure, Apple Maps was pretty bad relative to Google Maps

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 crime wasn't releasing a half-baked maps application. The crime was removing the working one. To that extent, this buck stops at Cook's desk, IMO. Apple Maps was a strategic blunder, not a tactical one.

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.

You shouldn't be adding features when you're taking away functionality at the same time.

Those guys really know how to hold a grudge...

'STRING HIM UP', 'STRING HIM UP', the crowd roars. His managers looks down from their perfect white offices, then one mutters, 'We'd better give the people what they want, he's the one at fault after all. We can't have this imperfection here any longer'

Apple is missing the point of the backlash. Of course customers hate Apple Maps...but they are complaining because they have no alternatives. I would be complaining about my Android Browser if Google Play did not have Dolphin readily available.

iPhone owners have plenty of map alternatives, including some apps that Apple's CEO himself suggested in his apology letter.

Okay, more specifically, they did not have Google Maps.

Not to mention that some of the alternatives (e.g., Nokia) are actually worse ... ><

Shouldn't this be linked to the original Bloomberg article?

They wish him a merry Christmas :)

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