The Apple Mapocalypse, Ctd

Sep 28 2012 @ 8:57am

David Pogue, the NYT’s tech reviewer, says Apple Maps “may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed”:

Unfortunately, in this new app, the Washington Monument has been moved to a new spot across the street. The closest thing Maps can find for “Dulles Airport” is “Dulles Airport Taxi.” Search for Cleveland, Ga., and you’ll wind up right smack in Cleveland, Tenn. Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., is in the right place but the wrong decade; it became a Publix supermarket 11 years ago. And on, and on, and on. Entire lakes, train stations, bridges and tourist attractions have been moved, mislabeled or simply erased. Satellite photo views consist of stitched-together scenes from completely different seasons, weather conditions and even years.

What happened, as AllThingsD reports, is that the end-user got lost in the business war between the two tech superpowers:

Apple pushed Google hard to provide the data it needed to bring voice-guided navigation to iOS. But according to people familiar with Google’s thinking, the search giant, which had invested massive sums in creating that data and views it as a key feature of Android, wasn’t willing to simply hand it over to a competing platform. And if there were terms under which it might have agreed to do so, Apple wasn’t offering them.

So Apple, a company long known for protecting its user experience over almost everything else, sacrificed that experience for a business advantage. Joshua Gans thinks the mess has been a revealing one:

[A]ll this brinkmanship smacks of mistakes. Google misjudged Apple’s desire to go it alone possibly because they knew Apple could not have had a superior product. But, more critically, and related to this, Apple misjudged just how important it is for maps to be highly accurate and also just how confusing it is for consumers to have to switch to other apps. After all, while people may have lamented Apple not supporting Flash or the uselessness of is Passbook app recently, the Maps issue took away features consumers had. So there was degradation. And, as I said last week, it is the willingness of Apple to do that rather than be beholden to Google’s power a little longer that has spooked many.

Previous Dish coverage here.