iOS 6's Apple Maps: Yes, it's that bad

A flawed cornerstone app ships despite developer warnings, signaling that perhaps pride is prized over quality at Apple

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Who knows what new CEO Tim Cook will do. He certainly knows how to play hardball with suppliers, so I doubt he's averse to holding the maps team accountable. He responded to the outcry over his Chinese supplier's labor practices this winter, and Apple reversed course publicly on its withdrawal from the EPEAT green manufacturing standard. So there is evidence that Apple may be more publicly responsive to the mistakes that do happen. But for Maps, that hasn't happened yet.

UPDATE 9/28/12: Cook today apologized for the Maps mess, as he should have. I appreciated the class he showed in then recommending competing apps, including from Google and Microsoft, until the problems are fixed. Like me, he also recommended Waze.

Wall Street praise, user complaints
Interestingly, while users are complaining worldwide about Maps, Wall Street financial analysts have been giving Apple nothing but high-fives for its iPhone 5 rollout. They note that Apple has shipped more than twice as many iPhone 5s in its debut weekend as it did the iPhone 4S last year, despite analysts' fears of component shortages. And they note how much faster the iPhone 5 rollouts are to countries outside the United States, signaling a more effective supply chain and stronger carrier relationship program. Some even say this indicates that Apple now has a "production vision" rather than a product vision.

If so, Apple is doomed to become a Nokia or RIM at some point. Wall Street analysts do a great disservice when it comes to the tech industry. Their lack of understanding about technology and product development and tone deafness to creativity makes them focus on short-term issues of the sort that lead companies astray, building machines that hurtle themselves faster to oblivion. So anyone in Silicon Valley who understands Wall Street knows to do the opposite of what most Wall Street financial analysts say. (There are a very few exceptions, such as Global Equities' Trip Chowdhry, whose advice is worth following.)

In fact, Apple for years has ignored Wall Street for this reason -- and prospered as a result. Now we see Apple paying more attention to Wall Street. If it takes what it hears too seriously, we'll have more Maps incidents in the future.

Apple is lucky that people really love the company and its products, so they forgive Apple a lot. Apple almost always does fix the issues, and people's memory on mistakes are short when they love the rest of the product. That's basic human nature.

How Apple deals with the Maps fiasco will be very telling. But until that story is told, don't use the Maps app.

This article, "iOS 6's Apple Maps: Yes, it's that bad," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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