Apple Maps doesn't meet expectations - Top Turkeys 2012


In June Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled the latest version of its iOS software, and introduced a new Maps platform to replace Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps data. The decision to drop Google Maps as the pre-loaded mapping service is part of Apple's more confrontational stance toward Google in all things mobile.

Maps for iOS 6 included 100 million business listings and Yelp recommendation engine integration alongside anonymous, real-time crowdsourced traffic data, turn-by-turn navigation, suggested travel routes and integration with Apple's voice-activated Siri search software.

Yet days after users started using the Maps service they took to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations with its performance, sharing screen shots of errors and comparing information with existing Google data. For example, users identified a fractured river in Ann Arbor, Mich., and noted that a search for the Golden Gate Bridge identified a landmark about four miles away from its proper location. The Verge noted the problems are even more widespread outside of the U.S., with mapping detail in major international cities like London, Tokyo and Beijing virtually non-existent.

A week later Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology for the Maps platform, admitting "We fell short" on meeting customer expectations and suggesting that consumers consider alternative mapping technologies while Apple strives to improve the service. In late October Apple shocked the industry and said that Scott Forstall, the company's senior vice president of iOS software, was leaving the company as part of a shakeup of the company's executive team. According to reports, Forstall was forced out of Apple due to the troubles in Siri and Apple Maps, products that he oversaw. Specifically, the situation came to a head when Forestall refused to sign the apology letter that Cook posted to Apple's website about Maps.

The whole debacle was very much out of step with the image that Apple had cultivated in the media as a purveyor of premium but high-quality products. The fact that Apple released software that was as buggy as Maps damaged its reputation and led to Forstall's ouster, even if it did little to dent Apple's iPhone 5 sales. For Apple though, it was the first major chink on its armor in the post-Steve Jobs era, and that's why it was a turkey.