Today CEO Tim Cook took the rather unusual step of issuing a public mea culpa via the Apple.com home page and suggesting that, until Apple gets its mapping act together, iFans should use competing products from Bing, MapQuest, Google, or Nokia.
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That whirring sound you hear is Steve Jobs spinning in his grave at 5,400 RPMs.
Meanwhile, bloggers and journos who lavished praise upon the original iMap app are doing some spinning of their own. The New York Times' David Pogue must be wearing a back brace after doing a 180-degree backflip about Apple Maps. Ten days ago he called the new maps app one of iOS6's "chief attractions." A week later he wrote a 1,350-word piece completely eviscerating it, calling Apple Maps "the most beautiful, entertainingly addled mapping service ever."
Meanwhile, as the Real Dan Lyons (formerly known as the Fake Steve Jobs) points out, staunch fanboys like John Gruber and MG Siegler continue to spin excuses for the Mapocalypse. Skipping right over things like the missing monuments, melting freeways, empty cities, and farms mistaken for airports, the Apple apologists focused instead on how Apple was forced to release its mapping app now because its agreement with Google was about to expire.
The other fanboy defense? Sure, Apple Maps suck, but so did Google Maps when it came out in 2005. So, like Google Maps, the iMap app will eventually get better.
That may be true. But it isn't 2005 any more. There's now a much more capable app available called -- yes -- Google Maps. If Apple really intended to put out a half-finished product and have it be improved through the hard work of its fanatical fanbase, it should have done exactly that. A year or two ago Apple should have said "Hey, we're trying to build our own maps app -- help us make it better," released it in beta, and asked for feedback. In a year all those missing monuments would have been located, all those blank cities filled in. Pilots would not be trying to land jumbo jets in the garden of Ireland's Minister of Justice.
How did those reviewers who were so giddy about the iPhone 5 get this so wrong? Tech.pinions blogger Steve Wildstrom admits what most of them would rather leave unsaid: Online reviews of phones and other gadgets are generally not worth the paper they're not printed on. Why? Because of the deadline crush -- and in particular Apple's refusal to release product early to all but a lucky few.