Apple Maps claims another casualty

Allan Swann
November 29, 2012

Apple has fired yet another executive over the Apple Maps fiasco, as the company looks to repair the damage done – damage which has allegedly hurt the launch figures of the iPhone 5.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of online services, has sacked the head of online services, Richard Williamson over the fiasco, according to Bloomberg News.

This follows from Apple CEO Tim Cook issuing a public apology for the service, as well as the sacking of the senior vice president of iOS, Scott Forstall.

Apple Maps was launched as part of Apple’s latest operating system upgrade, iOS 6, as part of Apple’s plan to push favoured Google services off its devices. The deep integration within the OS means that users are stuck with Apple Maps by default. But whereas in the past Apple may have been focussed on producing the best experience possible for its users, namely the veteran Google Maps, it instead launched a maps service so broken, websites devoted to its errors (see: ‘The Amazing iOs6 Maps‘ tumbler feed) sprung up within hours of launch. Bizarre issues such as accordian-crunched bridges, melting cities and bridges to nowhere abound.

In the UK and Ireland, Airports were in the wrong places, towns were unmarked and iconic monuments missing (hat tip: Huffington Post). Navigation was also unfinished, and often sent users on incorrect routes. So much so that the Irish Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, described the new Google-less maps as ‘dangerous’.

While this is a serious failing by Apple, it as much a data problem as anything. Google Maps has been built up by nearly 10 years of user and business submitted data, hence why you can find your local laundromat and favourite underground burger joint. Apple, and to be fair, all other map rivals, have had similar problems.

Apple purchased mapping company C3 late last year with an eye to building its own mapping software from the ground up. It is understood that Cue is now looking to external mapping experts such as Tom Tom to come in and help fix the issues, as well as share its own landmark and navigation data with Apple.

Google has already announced that it will be producing its own Google Maps iOS app, which will be putting pressure on Apple to get its service up to scratch. iOS 6 users have already been clamouring for alternatives, and although big players like Nokia launched its ‘Here’ app last week – it has not been an acceptable substitute.

Much of the glee at Apple’s demise, while schadenfreude-esque, is not entirely unwarranted. Apple’s hype machine only really works if the product matches its lofty ambitions. It certainly didn’t here.

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