“There is a difference between a map and an app. We don’t develop the app. We license the map data, which is like a foundation. The customer can build on top of that, but we license the same mapping data to all our customers,” said TomTom media manager Cem Cohen.
Here’s the problem with the above quote from Tom Tom. Would it be likely that Apple would “build in” incorrect locations the way users have reported? One quick look at some of the photos from this website, The Amazing iOS 6 Maps, clearly shows that some locations are missing key topography like rivers in Belgrade, Serbia as shown here. Is this Apple’s fault since it is licensing Tom Tom’s data? Apple probably wouldn’t have the resources to even deal with the scale of effort required to make maps data super accurate. Google certainly didn’t have this luxury from the onset and even asks users to suggest corrections as you use their app.
(Source: The Amazing iOS Maps | Belgrade, Serbia missing rivers)
A lot of people are spending time taking barbs at Apple over this one because of their envy / hate for “do no wrong” success up until now. To a degree, they may be right. However, if the data is coming from elsewhere, given the scale of the application (maps for the world!), no amount of QA from Apple itself would be able to capture the complexity and inaccuracies of mapping data. Apple should have launched this as a “beta” product like Google has done many times before with GMAIL etc. Such applications require years of field-tested use by users before you can safely remove the beta sticker.
Herein lies a much larger point. Everyone has spent countless hours of digital ink lambasting Apple for doing everything on their own. In the context of previous acquisitions like Lala Music, PA Semi, and Siri and Fingerworks, Apple had some time to incorporate IP acquisition portfolios into its R&D and product development processes.
However, under pressure to an annual release cycle, impatient users, an impatient digerati blogosphere and growing Android competition from Samsung and Google, Apple opted to go with licensed map data from other vendors to build out their new Maps app. Good idea?
Look at what happened?
Apple gave away trusted experience to someone else (through data) and rushed to market with a complex application likely to be compared against Google’s years of experience with mapping. Sounds like a PR nightmare. That said, there’s no excuse for Tom Tom and others to have this kind of bad data given they’ve been in this game with GPS systems for such a long time.
I do think Apple jumped the shark on this baby. I have used to Maps feature myself and have not found any issues with the Toronto area data. That said, the Maps application is beautiful and with time, we could see some great surprises. For now, Apple has to deal with this professionally and get down to business. Perhaps Apple had options (or didn’t) to consider options beyond licensing. Hard to say…it’s a complex area that can’t be built overnight in a hotly-contested market.
However, to the folks that bickered about Apple not including NFC on the iPhone? Why? Why do you really care? It isn’t like NFC is widely adopted and just look at the mess known as Google Wallet. If I was a betting man, I believe Apple is going to double down even more after Maps — they will continue down a path of vertical integration where they own the experience end-to-end. No doubt about it.
For the people who don’t like this approach…fine. Buy some other product. It’s Apple’s ecosystem and until it blows up, they’ll continue.
For NFC/Payments, this means that if and when Apple’s Passbook is more than it is today (includes NFC and transactions), Apple will do something monstrously different than what most of the industry and consumers might expect. This could include the appropriate licensing frameworks for banking/processing so that it can own the full transaction ecosystem. It does this today with its 1-click iTunes experience which could only work with Apple acting as an Internet Payment Service Provider (IPSP - aggregated payments on behalf of music/film and app creators with full provisioning of content, billing and sales or tech support). Let’s also not forget Apple’s own in-house POS system they’ve built to power Apple Store sales for years.
Plus, Square’s little “do-daddy” appears cool to most of the major media (nothing better to write about, I guess) but this is hardly revolutionary. It is only popular because it looks “familiar” to North American audiences. You swipe a credit card to process a payment by adding a slider dock on the iPhone.
Wow, real exciting. That’s so backwards, it isn’t funny. That’s evolutionary. Not revolutionary.
The rest of Asia is making a laughing stock of the West for it and yet the tech media in Silicon Valley, New York and Toronto are lapping it all up as if it was some crazy innovation that no one could have thought of. Of course, the me-too products have joined the ratpack with Paypal Here and others.
Revolutionary payments will come from companies like Admeris Mobile. Selected by AlwaysOn as one of 20 to watch in 2012/beyond, the media should spend less time focusing on Google and Paypal and more time focusing on innovative players in the payments ecosystem.
After Maps, Apple will double-down MUCH MORE. They’d be crazy not to. Apple may have acted on the dynamics of the mobile marketplace for the first-time without the thing that kept them steady: Steve Jobs.
Some jabs from the competition below:
This incident also demonstrates just one more thing. Apple should have allowed Google to release an independent iOS6 map app with their maps launch. Choice is important and while Apple may like to think it is producing technology infinitely better than others in the marketplace, they would have been in a better position to release their Maps app at the same time as Google’s independent app.
Why deny four generations of users this right? Because Steve Jobs wanted to go thermonuclear? Not cool.
We know customer behaviour already. Restrict them from choice long enough and they will find solutions or worse — move to a completely different ecosystem altogether if the solution is that much better.
- Apple competitors toss barbs over iOS 6 map troubles (electronista.com)
- Welcome To Apple’s iOS6 Map - Where Berlin Is Now Called “Schoeneiche” (techcrunch.com)
- Apple’s map woes continue as media, users pile on (electronista.com)
- ‘There Is A Difference Between A Map And An App’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- TomTom is more than willing to help Apple fix map problems - Reuters (reuters.com)
- TomTom: Don’t Blame Apple Maps Problems On Us! (AAPL) (businessinsider.com)