We’re Sorry …
That’s what Apple said last week about their new mapping application. In a rather embarrassing press release, CEO Tim Cook apologized to iPhone users for the buggy, fault-laden app the company put out last week. Users of the new iPhone 5 and folks who upgraded to the new operating system saw the Google Maps application replaced by Apple’s, which made a lot of mistakes: misplacing the Golden Gate Bridge, the City of Stockholm, and removing all the roads and cities from the Falklands Islands. The mislabelings and misplacements seem to be particularly pronounced in Europe.
This is reminiscent of the mess Apple created when it released the iPhone 4. At that time users who held the phone a certain way had their calls dropped because of the new phone’s antenna placement. Steve Jobs initially held a press conference where he blamed users for not holding their phones correctly, but later the company offered owners $15 / each or a free iPhone case. Eventually Apple redesigned its phone and solved the problem.
This time Apple put its apology onto its home page within days of the release, and suggested that users try out competitors’ products. This is like Coke telling folks that didn’t like New Coke to go ahead and buy a Pepsi. It’s pretty unusual, and shows how the company has matured under Cook’s leadership.
Given how profitable mobile search ads have become, it’s not surprising that Apple would want to use its dominance in the smartphone market to capture more of that revenue stream, and it’s unlikely that the maps kerfuffle will be any worse for Apple than other gaffs–like the math errors once build in to Intel’s computer chips. Mistakes don’t sink companies; failing to correct them can.
One thing’s for sure: this is one feature of the new iPhone that Apple doesn’t have to worry about Samsung or anyone else copying.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Follow me on Twitter @tengdin