If there’s one thing I’ve learned by watching Apple through the years is that there are four different stories for every story the company generates. There’s what happened. There’s Apple’s version of what happened. There’s the tech media pundit’s version of what happened. And, finally, there’s the customer’s view.
Alright, Apple’s Maps in iOS6 may not be as good as Google Maps on iOS 5, but in some ways it’s better. It’s more readable. It’s faster to load (thank you, vector tiles). It has turn-by-turn driving directions.
On the negative side, there are problems with Maps data (not that Google Maps is perfect; none are), and in retrospect it appears as if Apple’s show and tell of Maps was more sizzle than steak. Sizzle sells. But there needs to be a connect between the sizzle and the steak’s taste. In the case of Apple Maps, the taste fell flat.
Or, did it?
To hear tech media pundits call it, you’d think Apple was doomed. Again. At least Apple apologized and promised to work quickly to improve the product and they will. Maps, it seems, is hard work.
What about iPhone customers who use Maps? What do they think of Apple Maps? My experience is mixed. The maps have been acceptable but I live in New York so having the transit option in Google Maps was a plus. There is no such option in Apple Maps, but a few apps do even better than Google with transit data.
The problem with Apple’s problem with Maps is that Apple is a high profile company with a few hundred million customers. Anything Apple does, right or wrong, generates undue headlines.
The danger with that problem is when a problem goes mainstream in a public way. It happened with the original iPhone when AT&T’s network couldn’t hold calls. It’s happening now with Mapsgate.
Enter Mad Magazine and a parody of The New Yorker, with a Mapsgate twist.
The original cover on the left was actually a parody of how those of us in New York tend to view the rest of the country. The cover on the right is the same view but using Apple Maps.
Ouch. Funny, but ouch. Bad news gone mainstream.
Apple has an inherent problem. It can generate an amazing amount of free press simply by launching a new product. And, it can generate an amazing amount of bad press by launching a product with a problem or two.
New products, executive, and customer loyalty aside, Apple CEO Tim Cook’s biggest challenge for the future is fixing expectations. Apple has enjoyed a wonderful ride for a decade and prospered accordingly. Today, though, any glitch, hiccup, or product blemish is magnified beyond belief by the media. Can you name another company that has as much customer loyalty as Apple and gets the same level of scrutiny for every move, big or small?
Apple’s free ride as darling underdog is over. Expectations need to be managed more carefully in the Tim Cook era.