Apple went ahead and launched its own maps application which it called ‘the most beautiful, powerful mapping service’.
It is always embarrassing when someone catches you ogling at pictures in glossy magazines. It is all the more embarrassing when what you are ogling at turns out to be a piece of electronics. When one of my relatives sneaked up behind me, I was indulging in some gadget porn by looking at pictures of the new iPhone.
Then came the bombshell, when the said relative said casually, ‘New iPhone? Not good. Maps don’t work’. Now don’t get me wrong, but when a person who spends half his waking time playing Farmville, and who thinks E! news is a serious news programme says Apple’s maps is bad then you know things are really bad.
For the uninitiated, Apple’s iPhone used to have a maps application that used Google’s maps. Now that the tech world became like Wasseypur where no one talks to anyone else, Apple went ahead and launched its own maps application which it called ‘the most beautiful, powerful mapping service’. Except when users started using it, it turned out to be the worst product that Apple has ever put out. It added new airports where there were none. The Statue of Liberty vanished. Most of the cities in India are just singled dots on the nearby highways.
On the first anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death, this led to many people asking if Apple is still the same company under Tim Cook as it has been under Jobs. Over the year Apple has seen some great triumphs and some equally embarrassing failures. It sold record numbers of the iPhone 4S and with five million of iPhone 5s on the first weekend, it has another record-breaking product. Along with the iPhone, it has released some great products like the new iPad and the retina MacBook Pro. These products have also given Apple a tremendous year in terms of profits and stock price. It has also been the year that would have made Jobs most happy with its billion dollar win against Samsung.
But the year has also seen some major failures. Siri, which has been touted as one of the flagship features of the 4S, has been a little embarrassing to say the least. Though it has now come to the iPad and the iPod Touch, Siri is still a novelty. Something to play with for a few hours and then forget. Or something to show off in a party. Not the great artificial intelligence that assists users all the time. And maps. Apple had its own reasons for why it had to abandon Google’s service and jumped ship. But users don’t understand them and don’t care. What they know is that Apple has dumped on them a half-baked product that is not just useless but can also be harmful if you are to follow the likes of turn-by-turn directions. Add smaller problems like controversy about workers conditions in China, and problems with retail operations, it is not surprising that people wonder if Apple has lost its mojo.
The answer is Apple may have lost some of its shine, but as the recent maps fiasco showed it grew up and became mature as befitting the world’s largest company. When users start complaining about the maps, Tim Cook did what Jobs would never have done in a thousand years. He apologised. And he did not stop at that. He recommended other maps products from Google and Nokia. But does this change mean that Apple will lose its edge in innovation? Will it become another HP under Cook? Only time will tell.