I’m sorry, really I am. Just what the world needs is another blog post on this stupid maps thing. But here I am writing my thoughts on the topic. There are a couple of things I didn’t hear others say and wanted to make the point. So here’s my total collected thoughts on Apple’s maps issues, mostly done through my sick, drug-addled brain this morning:
Is there problems with Apple’s new maps app? Obviously. There are enough funky routes and flyover screenshots to know that.
Why did Apple release a half-completed product? Because the product will remain half-completed until it is released to the world. From what I understand, Maps requires lots of user data to be perfected. Google started this process seven years ago and that’s why its map data is superior today.
Is the maps app really that much worse? I’ve used it sparingly so have no opinion on the maps themselves. I haven’t seen any issues with my limited use. I did hear that China is far better mapped with Apple’s maps app then Google’s. I can also say that the new vector-based maps are significantly superior to Google’s tiles.
Was Google really blind-sided? Hell, no. They knew this was coming, if not now then next year. Everyone knew that Apple bought multiple mapping companies over the past few years. Google should have had an app sitting around internally ready to send to Apple the minute they were cut out. Either way, Google knew they were off the device in June. It’s now September. What has the maps group done in the past three months?
Is Google smart to leave Apple tilting in the wind of bad publicity? If Google is indeed failing to release an iOS version of Google Maps because they want the bad publicity to mount for Apple, then that might be one of the dumbest decisions a company could make. I have repeatedly heard that getting data from customers is critical for a successful maps app. The longer Google delays, the longer Apple gets customer data to refine its maps. If I was Google, I would have had a maps app available on day 1. It would have been the most popular app in the App Store and would cut off Apple’s supply of data.
Is this whole thing a manifestation of the press? Maybe. The amount of writing on the issue is more interesting to me than the issue itself. It is also interesting to me that the press has attempted to get traction with multiple stories before this one. We have already had the camera problem stories (purple haze), aluminum backing scratch problem stories, the connector changed stories, and the App Store changed stories. None of these caught on so the press backed off each one until they found an issue that sticks: maps.
Will this be bad for Apple long-term? No. The press will get bored of the story, Apple will fix the issues, and in the end have a stronger product offering. This isn’t the first time Apple has had controversy around a new release (remember Flash?) and the press is always looking for something to hit Apple with. The flow of bad news will start to peter out over the next week or two and then Apple will announce they sold a ridiculous number of devices and the stock will go up and everyone can get back to speculating on what Apple will announce next.