Thing is, there wasn't much interesting meat on the iPhone 5 release, so I'm sure they were scrambling for any sort of "feature" to pad out the release.
It's why I think Apple should make a web interface to provide an easy way for people to add businesses and make corrections via their browser.
I mean, I vaguely remember when Google Maps switched from Navteq to Tele Atlas for a while and users disliked the Tele Atlas data. However, if you don't own your own mapping data, you need to buy it from someone selling. Given Nokia's ownership of Navteq, it seems unlikely that Apple would have gotten that data.
Other than improving the data over time, what else was egregiously wrong? On the data side, I think it takes time with the app being used by the public to correct that. If they were to make the hard decision not to ship Apple Maps, would the data be in pretty much the same situation a year later?
I stopped trying to use Apple Maps here in Warsaw, Poland, simply because they get so many of the basics wrong.
Any official document lists my street name as Skorochód-Majewskiego. Even Nokia's new offering can find it. Apple though? Nope, not even anything in the autocomplete list. The only match occurs if you type in the full Walentego Skorochód-Majewskiego. This is true for many streets here. So on that level, their offering is useless.
There were loads of other bizarre issues at launch - loads of parks had their names written in what looked like Chinese characters. Out of sheer annoyance, I went through and marked them all, not expecting much, and sure enough, three weeks later, the names started to clear up.
And this is without going into how obscenely ridiculous it was to see Warsaw's main airport being marked with the German word "Flughafen" in its title.
Nokia owns Navteq, which is one of the premier providers of GIS data. They're actually better positioned then Apple in this space.
I'm not sure that the data's to blame. For comparison, I've just given CoPilot Live a try with a couple of other streets (Korotyńskiego and Dickensa to be precise), and the UI presented them to without any difficulties.
These aren't new streets, they're on every map out there, and I'm convinced that this is a programming issue of not handling the data correctly. It's not even a case of doing cleverness with letters such as ń or ó - it's a complete failure altogether.
Another issue is the goofy cosmetic problems with the 3D maps. Of course, you could argue that it's still "a data problem," but it's not the type of data problem that magically gets better as more users use the app.
Lastly, there are usability issues that have nothing to do with data. As another user noted, I can only view navigation either fully zoomed in (with slightly variable tilt that doesn't even work well) or fully zoomed out. The overview shows a list of all the turns, but doesn't let me click on each one to zoom in on it (like every other directions app I've seen). It doesn't show speed or any other useful statistics except for estimated duration and distance.
The old GPS app I used on my iPhone 4, which I believe was Navigon, was a far superior product even ignoring the lackluster data of Apple Maps.
No, they won't. Stop claiming that. There is no magic algorith m to fixup maps based on people being given wrong data. Even if some people will give some feedback, that requires humans to process that input and translate it into map changes. Which can take a loong time.
Which is it?
For example, in Stockholm Apple's map still shows most buildings as lying in the middle of some street. On the other hand, only relatively few businesses seem to be located in some kind of building. There seem to be quite obvious, and systematic, errors all over the place.
I still use Google Maps (via the web now), though, since I prefer the way it presents traffic data.
If Tim Cook thought the Maps isn't ready, and he really wanted to ship it this year, then he could've decided not to do it anyway, but in the same time fire the people responsible for not delivering it on time. At least that would've saved them the public embarrassment.
His real responsibility is to hire people who can make solid decisions on his behalf, and to fire or move them if they can't do so.
When you reach a certain level, you have to stop passing the buck. Hell, if you want to reach that level, you have to stop passing the buck. Maps was Forstall's responsibility--to ship well or sound the alarm. Unless you have evidence that he was overruled, he's the right person to take the fall.
(This is setting aside all the personality politics, which likely played a bigger role in Forstall's exit. But that aside, Maps was still Forstall's job.)
My understanding is that Scott Forstall was forced to resign because he wouldn't put his name on the bottom of that letter.
I think the letter was just the tip of a planet sized iceberg.
The same Steve Jobs that launched Mobile Me. The same Jobs that launched Ping as the next big social idea. The same Steve Jobs that allowed iPhone 3G to be upgraded to iOS 4 and become an expensive electronic brick.
Every CEO knows the worst thing you could do is to micromanage your team. And while every now and then you do have to step in, look over the shoulder and do course correction, even Steve Jobs knew he should spend time on the big things than to second guess every little decision of his team. And Tim Cook has a dream team, probably the best in the industry.
Yes, they will screw up eventually - as they did with maps, as they did before during Jobs era, and will certainly do it again in the future. When that happens, you take full responsibility (like Tim Cook did), make the changes internally (which may or may not mean changing people), and make them clean up the mess.
Certainly the Maps brouhaha somewhat impacted Scott Forstall, but I doubt anybody in their conscious mind would fire the most experienced sw guy in the company (and arguably in the industry) just because ONE mistake on a by-product feature. People simply don't buy an iPhone because of the Maps. And there's 200 other apps, some much better than the Google/Apple Maps anyway.
It's a well known fact that Forstall was a divisive guy. Love him or hate him. And over time people get tired of managing conflicts. It was time for a change. And as of this guy in charge of maps.. well, he f'ed-up. As Steve Jobs once said, "When you're the janitor, reasons matter". Sadly for this guy, he wasn't the janitor anymore.
Google doesn't try to make every product they announce seem like the greatest innovation since the wheel lost its corners.
Apple does. They release a video of Jonny Ive talking about how Apple had to "rethink everything" to produce their latest gadget or idea.
This causes the average consumer to be far less forgiving of Apple's mistakes or shortfalls.
I love my Apple products but they are not flawless and there are many other products on the market that do many things better or just as well as my Apple products do them. I am not delusional.
I agree with your comments - Apple is definitely a victim of its own success.
Recently, Apple products have not been as innovative as before (mainly just refreshed and updated product after product) and while I love Apple products, they're just running out of steam.
iPhone 5S in June? What on earth are they going to update it with? An A6X and Siri 2.0? They're out of ideas.
Compare an iPod Classic to the original iPod - it's just an iteration on the same design.
Compare a MacBook Pro to a TiPowerBook - it's just an iteration on the same design.
Compare an iPhone 5 to an iPhone 1 - it's just an iteration on the same design.
Apple's innovation comes when they enter a new market (and the innovation is in packaging existing features together in a way that makes you wonder why no-one did it that way before). They don't really do major revisions of existing product lines - not since they scrapped the plastic Macs.
EDIT: just thought of the exception: the small iPods (Nano and Shuffle) - they don't really seem to know what to do with those.
It's the data everyone is upset about and it can't be fixed under the same chaotic management style that Richard and Forstall were in charge of.
Sad really, Richard was a good guy that simply took the fallout that executives are using to brighten Apple's image. Plus I assume it was a mutual departure as Richard was also in charge of several other iOS groups that he would have lost during the recent reshuffle.
What Apple has needed and needs more in the future is partnerships. It is the ONLY real failure of the entire Maps project. There are plenty of data providers around the world who Google relies on for mapping data that Apple simply never approached before launch but have started to reach out to now.
I suspect you're going to see a rapid improvement in the quality of the data over this coming year.
No, the magic is that there are tens of thousands of excellent data sources around the world. Google has spent the time and money pulling those data sources together into the best geographic database in the world.
Sure, Apple can reach out to regional data providers and try to merge the data into their own dataset (which is what they have done so far -- look at the legal notices for the Maps app to see all the sources they've got so far), but it takes a lot of time to call up each state, county, province, city all over the world and ask or buy every last drop of geodata they have. Once they have it, they have to merge it into their existing data. Google does this with the help of fancy algorithms and boatloads of volunteers and relatively low-paid laborers in India. They also have related products to trade for geodata. Want a discount on your city's Google Apps for Domain? Send us a DVD full of your land records and we'll give it to you for free! Already have Google Apps? How about a free license to Google Earth Enterprise?
Bottom line: Google has spent the time and built the technology to beat Apple to the geodata punch. Google is at least 3 years ahead of Apple and Apple can't catch up with money alone: dealing with governments (for their data) will simply take time.
I was an employee at Vicinity Corp (the first provider of Yahoo Maps back in the olden days) and can tell you from experience that good mapping software (and accumulation of good map data) is an extremely difficult problem.
Apple Maps is actually quite decent if you view it as a 1.0 product. Anyone expecting it to be truly competitive with Google Maps on the first go needs to reread Joel Spolsky's old essay on the 10 year rule for good software.
The failure of Apple Maps is that the execs made the decision to replace a superior product with it while simultaneously messaging that the new software was actually superior to the old one, when it clearly wasn't.
While I know nothing of the real story behind this, I suspect the guy who was let go here wasn't the guy who made the actual bad decisions.
I don't know if by "olden days" you mean 2005-2006 or so, but I can tell you that at that time Yahoo Maps was the only serious competitor for Google Maps. It had actually better data than Google for many big cities outside of the US.
For example only in the last 6 months or so did I see that GMaps actually had geo-data for my city's neighborhoods (their "boundaries" etc.), a thing that was available in Yahoo Maps back in those days. Plus, the Yahoo data was quite open, unlike the walled garden that is Google Maps.
By 2005 Yahoo Maps wasn't using Vicinity anymore, they had their own in-house mapping team starting in 2002 or so. Between these two periods they also used MapQuest (which was Vicinity's main rival back then) for a bit.
By the time Google Maps became a thing what was left of Vicinity was owned by Microsoft (the old www.mapblast.com URL currently redirects to bing maps).
What ? Accumulation of good data is very easy these days. It just requires you to open up your chequebook and license it from the various providers.
I know first hand that Apple never even bothered to approach most of the providers before launch.
1) Build and train huge team to update the maps, stitch imagery, correct mistakes
2) Build tools for that team
3) Either buy the cutting-edge data, license it, or build it themselves. I don't see a point of licensing, since they might as well have used Google Maps.
4) Build the website. A maps app without a web interface is a lot less useful. They are basically sending their desktop users to their competitor.
5) Rebuild the brand. Right now Apple Maps is a joke, it's synonymous with bad directions. Nobody takes it seriously.
I don't see a point of licensing, since they might as
well have used Google Maps.
Navteq and Tomtom will let you do essentially anything with their data for the right price.
3 -> It's licensed from TomTom. Why don't you see a point to licensing? That's by far the best way to get cutting edge data. Getting it yourself is going to take years.
4 -> Apple Maps is rumoured to be in the latest 10.9 builds.
5 -> Yeah, dearly needed.
Personal belief: no discretionary high-level firings of any sort are going to happen during Xmas shopping season; Xmas is to consumer electronics what benefits enrollment is to health insurance companies: total operational lockdown.
The average Xmas shopper isn't going to notice this; on the off chance they do notice it won't figure into their iOS6-device purchasing decisions; on the tiny chance it would affect their decision it might be a positive -- "Apple is actively cleaning up the mess!".
Aside: Why is that popular Apple bloggers who claim to have inside sources are never able to break a story?
This has been months in the making.
Is this personnel change interesting to anyone other Apple-watchers and investors? E.g., it's on Bloomberg and HN, but not CNN. This is today's CNN Apple story: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/27/tech/web/bing-search-2012/inde...
It hardly seems to have affected investors either: Apple shares slipped less than 1 percent to $586.81 at 2:01 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained 45 percent so far this year.
As part of the management overhaul, Cue -- who oversees Apple’s iTunes, App Store and iCloud services -- was also put in charge of maps and the Siri voice-recognition tool, bringing all of the company’s online services under one group.
I think it's unrealistic to think that Apple-internal project/product management staff changes will be put on hold for months simply due to the shopping season. The executives probably feel this "overhaul" is quite urgent and is holding up deadlines.
Interstingly, my wife said I was talking in my sleep this morning when she woke me up:
Me: "Are they going to sacrifice the goat?"
Wife: "No, but you need to get up."
Me: "No goat?"
Wife: "No, but we still need to leave soon."
Me: "Oh, I was hoping the goat was going to save us."
Wife: "No, we're on our own."
Apparently I then insisted that I was continuing a conversation I heard her having with the kids.
And a senior executive at a company as large as Apple should have no effect on day-to-day operations, especially not retail operations.
What more exactly do you want them to do commit seppuku ?
The person who decided to ditch Google Maps is dead and the person who tried to sell Apple Maps as better than Google has already been fired.
a. No transit data. Recommends apps from the App Store instead. There are a few good ones (like Transit, from a Montreal based company), but I personally rely on transit data a lot and any ad hoc solution is not good enough.
b. Missing/Incorrect Data. Specially outside North America.
c. Flyover looks good, but not as useful as StreetView.
d. Search - Yes, better data, transit data etc. are all well and good, but searching that data is the key. Apple's search is quite terrible. This is Google's bread and butter and they do such an amazing job that I don't think Apple can catch up with them. I don't think throwing a ton of money is going to get them out of this hole.
Again, can't see how firing a manager can even begin to tackle those issues. Unless that person was actively trying to thwart Apple's efforts.
Let's be clear here. Apple has a data problem.
I'd say it was probably a combination of issues that led them to think that it wasn't a fit.
I hope Apple doesn't enter this soccer team emulation mode, where by firing the coach and keeping all else the same is supposed to mean things are changing.
So we'll know Apple is prioritizing service data quality above all else when they come out with an Android client, to get the most possible eyes on their data.
It could. I reported an erroneous hospital (it was closed, torn down, and redeveloped some time ago) when Maps first came out to both Apple and Yelp. That dangerously erroneous data is still in there. If you try to rush someone to the nearest hospital from my house, you'd better have a plan B when you get to those new apartments.
There's no incentive to switch to a worse app - it'd be like when Apple released a (very substandard) version of Safari on Windows.
If on the other hand the goal is to have the 'best' mapping app and location services -- to spend whatever billions are necessary, because it's strategically necessary for the mobile world -- then they should have an offering everywhere, showing off whatever they're best at.
ITunes on Windows, especially as a client to Apple's content store and as an enabler for their mobile devices, is a better analogy than Safari. If Windows users couldn't have easily used iPods, iPhones, iPads, and the ITunes Store, Apple could not have achieved their current profitability.
(I believe the same logic applies to Apple Passbook. If its usage is capped at whatever Apple's device market share is, it won't achieve the ubiquity necessary for greatest success in the mobile wallet wars.)
The introduction of iPod (and iPhone/iPad) compatibility to Windows is different because at the time, the iPod was by far the best MP3 player - this just made it usable to more people.
In any case, Apple is in the Bay Area, where they were presumably testing the product on a continual basis. There's no excuse to have the metro view be a shitshow and tell consumers that they're getting a better product
I now start with Google maps via Safari and only resort to using the Maps app if I need my location to show up as fast as possible.