Apple Had a Year Left on its Google Maps ContractSo, Apple's hot new mapping product kinda sucks. That's alright. Google was sticking it to them, right? They had no choice! Turns out, that's wrong. According to The Verge, Apple still had a year left on its mapping contract with Google. They could have taken another year to finish their product, to make it like the Apple products of yore: complete.
And yet they chose not to, choosing instead to force people to use their broken, incomplete, and fairly unuseful mapping solution instead.
Now, there were some points of concern. Google wasn't shipping turn-by-turn directions out on iOS. The software in the iOS version was more out of date than the one running on Android. And Google wanted the next deal to give them visible branding, Latitude support, and better renewal terms.
But the existing deal still stood. Apple could have taken an entire year to improve their maps, to collect data, model cities, add things to their database, and support international addresses. But they didn't.
Gizmodo has a missive up about how Apple is alienating its core audience by shipping beta products. It's a good read, and I'll let them make the case. But their point is that, where once Apple products just worked, now we're getting beta's like Siri and Maps.
Now, with Siri, I am willing to cut some slack. The only way to collect enough data to improve their product is to release it to the masses. Voice recognition requires a lot of data before anything approaching accuracy can be achieved. But Maps gets its data largely from TomTom and paid professionals. It doesn't need to be public to be improved. Apple just released a product that sucked.
Between this and how little innovation we saw in the iPhone 5, I'm more than a little worried for Apple. They make great products, sure, but they seem to have lost their innovator's edge. We haven't seen them shake things up since the iPad launch. Everything since has been revisionary, even Siri, which was a purchase that built on existing research.
I hope Apple can get their groove back. I prefer Android, and I have some serious issues with my Macbook Air, but every platform needs competition, someone to drive innovation. If not Apple, then who?