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Apple Maps: What Would Steve Do?

by: E. Werner Reschke | Sep 26, 2012
Apple-maps

Apple Maps. It's a sore spot for iOS 6 users. To any honest observer, Apple blew this one. While we all know Apple Maps will get better, right now Maps does not meet the high standard we have come to expect from an Apple product or service.

While everyone else is discussing what is wrong or what went wrong, I'd like to take a moment and ask, WWSD? or in other words, "What Would Steve Do?"

Steve Jobs was known for being a perfectionist. Everything had to work right and work superior to what the market already had, otherwise why even play in the sandbox? Steve saw Apple as the company that did things other companies said couldn't be done or didn't have the will power to make happen. So now that Apple Maps is out the door — at best a disappointment and at worst a failure — What Would Steve Do in this situation?

Believe it or not, this has happened in Apple's past. Remember MobileMe? — the service that was a rebranding and retooling of .Mac. Steve was so livid that MobileMe shipped with so many bugs that he invited the entire software team to the auditorium and asked, "What is MobileMe supposed to do?" Several people answered back with the right answers: it was supposed to do this and that and the other thing. Steve's reply was classic, "Well, why the F*&*k doesn't it do that?!?!?" And with that half of the room received pink slips and never entered Infinity Loop ever again.

But Steve is no longer with us. Tim Cook is at the helm. Will Tim take the same approach as Steve and fire half of the staff who worked on Apple Maps? Or does Tim have a different plan. Rumors have it Apple Map engineers are in "lock down" right now trying to deliver an update that will save their jobs. Maybe this is a slightly different approach but not by much. If you've ever been an engineer in "lock down" it can be grueling. While catered meals come and go, and the coffee is flows like water off a Colorado mountain top, it is basically a prison and you have to engineer your way out. Tensions are high. People don't go home. Co-workers little habits grow to become annoying distractions. Lock Down can be an awful mess, but as the internet will tell, iOS 6's Apple Maps has gotten off to a rough start and tarnished the iPhone 5 launch more than Apple will publicly admit. 

Don't worry, Apple will sell plenty of iPhone 5's. That isn't the issue. The issue is Apple's reputation. Apple is known for delivering superior products that just work. And if Apple can't deliver either of those, then it doesn't do that project. Right now Apple Maps doesn't meet either of those criteria. Backing out would be a huge egg on the face of an other wise very shiny Apple. Tim doesn't have the charisma like Steve did when he quelled Antenna Gate with his presence and free iPhone bumpers. Nope, to fix this Tim Cook is going to need a product that works, and works well. Until then, Christmas has come early for Eric Schmidt and Team Google. After having one of their major vendors clobbered in court (Samsung), the news of a sub par Apple Mapping program is the best news Google management has received in years.

Here's to hoping Apple will get it right and soon.

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1 Comment

  1. James ~ September 26, 2012 10:58

    With the flub of Siri and now the oops-aw-shit of maps Tim Cook should at least take off the heads of software team. Maybe he is waiting for a decent interval? Tim Cook has to look long and hard at his software team, he needs to find out who is cross-threading the lightbulbs and get rid of them. If he can not perform the due diligence, he needs to go. Heads do need to roll for this fiasco. Start with the Software chief and the person who charged with developing maps. After that, find out how a culture of sloth and slovenliness managed to creep into Apple. Good enough has never been part of a successful Apple; Tim Cook has got to make that point crystal clear. #

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