Sunday, September 23, 2012

Laughable iOS 6 Maps implementation doesn't dissaude iPhone 5 customers

You might think that the laughably poor iOS 6 Maps implementation, which has sent people off in the wrong direction in addition to omitting cities and more, might deter people from buying the iPhone 5, but no, apparently not.

Although older devices can stay on iOS 5 if they wish, keeping their Google Maps instead of "downgrading" to iOS 6 maps, iPhone 5 users have no choice in the matter, as the device ships with iOS 6.

Piper Jaffray asked customers at Apple stores about their purchase plans, and they were not dissuaded at all by the Maps mess, despite two days of high-profile coverage over the issue. 83 percent of iPhone 5 buyers said they were upgrading from another version of the iPhone. Compare that with the iPhone 4S, where 73 percent said they were upgrading from another iPhone and 77 percent for the iPhone 4.

Personally, from our own experience, we saw much longer lines at the Apple store we frequent than for the iPhone 4S. In terms of positioning in line at the same time we normally get there (for coverage and business reasons), there were four times as many customers in line.

It appears that the release of a sub-standard Maps app was less important than Apple divesting itself of Google Maps. It's unclear how former CEO Steve Jobs might have felt about this, but based on his normal standard of perfection, we have doubts that he would have allowed it.

The fallout continues: Apple's primary map data partner TomTom made sure it told folks that the fault lies not with the data provider, but with the utilizer.

"TomTom stands by the quality of its Map Data. For over 20 years TomTom has provided high quality and accurate map data," adding that companies take its map data and "create their own unique application, which defines the user experience."

Motorola (now a division of Android platform maker Google) created a hashtag to mock the issue: #iLost. The inclusion of Google Maps in Android could give that platform a boost vs. iOS, not that it needs it.

The question is: how long will it take Apple's Maps to recover. We'd say a long, long time. It's not something that will be fixed in a short period of time, by any means.

Mike Dobson, president of map consulting firm TeleMapics, perhaps said it best in a blog post:

"There is no really quick fix for Apple's problems in this area, but this should not be news to anyone who is familiar with mapping and the large-scale integration of data that has a spatial component. Of course there appears nowhere to go but up for Apple in mapping."

Apple will get it right. It won't be anytime soon, though.

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