Tim Cook introducing the iPhone 5 (Photo credit: AP)

Tim Cook introducing the iPhone 5 (Photo credit: AP)

It’s difficult for a company to accept blame for a crappy product or service. But it’s also a good PR move to do so, which can help everyone — the company itself, customers, and the media — move on and find a resolution to the issue. In this case, the problem is Maps on iOS 6. Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledges that the company has fallen short on quality, and suggested alternatives while they fix their mapping service.

But reading between the lines, there’s still an attempt to justify their move in Cook’s letter. He says that Apple “wanted to provide … even better Maps,” and that in order to do that, they have “had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”

And so, while Apple is working at a better mapping service from ground up, Tim recommends other services, like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, which are available on the iTunes App Store. Then, there are also Google Maps and Nokia Maps, which can be accessed through mobile web.

If that means anything, it’s that Google has not likely submitted its native iOS 6 app to Apple yet, or that Apple has not yet approved it. Otherwise, Tim would have already mentioned that Google Maps was coming soon.

Admitting your mistake is a good move, especially if the aim is to improve the product. With the millions of Apple fans out there, I’m pretty sure Apple will be quickly forgiven, along with the host of other mistakes the company has made in the past. Remember MobileMe? How about Antennagate? How about the “hockey puck” mouse. Let’s not even talk about the Newton!

The question here is timing. Apple took it sweet time — one full week — before publicly acknowledging the issue. Let’s hope they get to really working on an improved mapping experience. Until then, Android users will have a common advantage over iPhone 5 and other iOS 6 users. Our native maps are better!

In case you’re interested about a history of Apple failures, you can check out this article from The Guardian. I have quoted Tim Cook’s memo below:


To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

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