Apple’s CEO Apologizes for iOS 6 Maps & It’s a Good Move

Vegas Melting iOS 6 Map

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, issued an open letter to customers today – in which he acknowledges the issues in the new iOS 6 Maps app and apologizes for the frustration users are experiencing. He even offers some suggestions on other 3rd party apps to use as alternatives to the built-in Maps app – like the Bing, Mapquest and Waze and Google and Nokia’s online maps that can be pinned to an iOS device’s home screen.

Right at the outset of his letter Cook owns up to the failings of the new Maps app, and makes it very clear that Apple recognize them:

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.

And at the end of the letter he lays out what Apple is committed to doing about the situation:

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.

Cook’s letter is already drawing lots of attention around the web this morning – and providing plenty of fodder for, lets just say, those who aren’t overly fond of Apple. Some are saying this is a sign of Apple’s decline, and many are trotting out the tired idea that Steve Jobs wouldn’t have done this.

Here’s my quick .02 on Cook’s decision to publish the letter, and the thoughts expressed in it:

— Nicely done. Honestly, who cares whether Steve would have done the same or taken the same tone. I think Cook took the right approach. There is no denying that the new Maps app sucks for the majority of users. Stepping up and acknowledging that they are just not up to Apple’s lofty standards, pointing out that they will improve with time and use by hundreds of millions of iOS users, and promising to work hard at making Maps much better is a good  move.

— It’s also worth remembering that while Steve Jobs may not have apologized for Antennagate, he certainly acknowledged it and even offered up free bumper cases for the minority of users affected by it. This is a very different situation. The sub-par new Maps app is not affecting a minority of users and there’s no quick fix for it. So speaking plainly to customers and admitting ‘this just isn’t good enough’ (my phrase, not Cook’s) is not just a good move, it’s really the only sensible move.

— The one thing that was no mentioned in the open letter, and that I think should have been, is something along the lines of Apple is also working hard to reach an agreement with Google to bring a full-featured (not lagging behind Android) version of Google Maps to the App Store. And a clear statement that if and when Google decides to submit such an app, Apple will review and approve it as quickly as possible.

What do you all think of Cook’s open letter on iOS 6 Maps?

Here’s the full text of Cook’s letter, via Apple:

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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  • Marvin Nakajima

    The letter I think helps humanize Apple’s CEO and is a good move PR wise. However the lack of mentioning Google Maps (even rolling it back or offering the ‘old’ version in the App Store) comes across as they will try to keep Google at arms length for as long as they can and may delay the app approval process to gain more time to move users away from being used to the service.