Got Maps?

I know, I know… Many of us in the Business world are sick of talking about, thinking about, and reviewing how good Apple is doing. My CEO says we need to be more like Apple, be the market leaders, innovators… like Steve Jobs. So it is to my pleasant surprise, when an opportunity comes up to talk about Apple’s mistakes, I don’t mind going into detail.

When the first iPhone premiered, it was not Apple’s strategy to make a GPS, nor an infinitely vast search engine. No, their goal was simple; make a phone that worked, was easy and intuitive to use, and make it look amazing. On every account Apple achieved what they set out to accomplish  When they opened the app store, they revolutionized mobile computing. They changed the way software companies could make money on mobile. Instead of tiny banner adds at the bottom of your mobile web browser, you could buy an app that was worth the dollar. One software publisher was there first, Google. Google brought directions and navigation to Apple’s iPhone. Apple liked it, so it was installed by default. It was simple, easy to use, and it worked wonderfully.

At some point in the last few years, Apple has started to control the App space more stringently. They’ve frequently cited security or legal reasons as to why they would deny a software publisher’s right to sell on the online mobile store. Strangely, with the release of the latest phone (iPhone 5) and the newest operating system (iOS 6) they denied Google the ability to publish the Google Maps App (which was free to download and install), and instead released their own version of the Maps App which was installed by default.

In an uncharacteristic move by Apple. The Apple Maps App was downright awful.  It was unpolished,  difficult to use, often sporting inaccurate or inefficient directions to your destination. If you were so lucky to use it on the new iPhone 5, you have turn-by-turn navigation with a friendly voice who would sometimes get you lost. In fact, the navigation of the new app  was so bad that caused a few incidents, even causing Australia to issue a Public Service Announcement to not obey Apple Maps directions as they could be dangerous.

This week, Apple effectively conceded defeat and allowed Google to once again publish Google Maps to the App Store. Within days, Google Maps became the most downloaded App in App Store history. Indicating both that Apple’s Map application was rubbish and that Google’s Map App did not represent a major threat to Apple’s primary business strategy.

So here’s the key question, if Google and Apple are direct competitors, why would they let Google bring their Map App back? If they’re not directly competing against each other, why ever remove Google Maps in the first place? It is possible that Apple thought they could push Google out, and gain market share. Instead, they upset a huge core of their customers who are now delighted that Apple brought back the real Maps App.

10 thoughts on “Got Maps?

  1. Clearly Apple was responding to public out cry. Allowing Google to produce the Google Maps App was the best way to soothe the masses. Google also produces the Android operating system, which is a direct competitor with Apple. It is probably a bad idea to be forced to basically advertise a competitor’s products as a default in your own operating system. One might think “Wow, the google maps app is really great, I wonder if the rest of the Android system is just as great?” So I don’t think that Apple was way off base trying to remove Google from its products, however the strategy was poorly executed. Google Maps is really an excellent product and Google has spent years developing it and perfecting it (although it is still not perfect). Apple was foolish to believe they could walk in and produce a map app that was going to compete with Google’s map app when Apple has no experience in that product line.

  2. This is a really good posting. I had never heard of the Apple Map until I heard a few friends complain about it. I think that Apple made a wise choice by allowing Google Maps back into their app store. Some companies are just great at things that others cannot nearly come close to.

  3. I’m sure that is the case that Apple wanted to try and gain market share for their map app, but they failed miserably. Apple obviously has a huge following and loyalty of customers, so I think they let Google back in because they knew that this strategy was more likely to keep the masses happy. Even if Google is a competitor, it was smarter on Apple’s part to collaborate with them in order to keep their customers happy.

  4. Until this day I still have much hate for the Apple Maps. To think that apple actually does have some insight and hearing out what their loyal customer base has to say is also very impressive. Since the apple is one the of biggest customer loyalty brand, I can why it is so important to allow Google back into the app store. I could remember when I first updated my phone, I was actually very mad that the Google map was switched. Not going to lie, I was infuriated with the decisions of Apple.

  5. In my belief Apple maps was an experiment by Apple to gain market share in the app world and also their was a contract dispute between google and apple, so apple tried to part ways and try apple maps which was surely a disaster . They have been aggressive in their approach and they wanted to take advantage of their present dominance in the world of apps and stick it to google.

  6. Apple has come a long way to become the world’s richest company. We all know Steve Jobs helped create a brand name that is Apple. But this post makes me wonder why Apple did not make necessary improvements with Apple maps before making it public. Another thing to consider is that Apple is known for its successful marketing strategy and heavy emphasis on proprietary software. Seemingly, Google has the best map app in the market because it is their specialty. This post is important because both Apple and Google can help each other gain competitive advantage. For example, Apple and Google have been expanding in Asia, China in particular. Apple can sell their iPhones to compete against other smart phones in the market while Google can make profit with Android and Google maps. It is a win-win situation for both companies who are trying to compete for market share and target foreign markets through joint ventures.

  7. With this whole maps debacle I understand why Apple wanted to make its own maps application, which is to not be so dependent on Google Maps, but what really bugs me about it is how they released it when it was clearly not ready.

    If you look at video game developers, the good ones will say the game will come out when it’s done. They won’t give a release date until they know with 100% certainty that the game is going to work properly. Apple used to be like this when they released products but in more recent years I feel like they have dropped the ball in terms of quality. I mean yes they are still extremely high quality and maybe this is just because everyone holds them to such ridiculous standards but if someone is paying for a product that screams quality but doesn’t deliver then it’s frustrating.

    Back to maps, they clearly jumped the gun and it did not pay off. Almost everyone used Google Maps now and Apple still recommends users download other map applications so big fail for Apple on all fronts.

  8. I really like this post because I think it is important to analyze the interaction of two power-house corporations in order to rationalize why the two companies would work together.

    Given that Google and Apple are direct competitors; battling over cell phones, operating systems, apps, etc…, it is interesting why Apple would first do business with Google. In an article by Steve Tobak, he states that when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs had no clue that Google’s Android operating system would become a direct competitor, so including their great maps in the iPhone made plenty of sense. However, years later we can see that Google has become a great competitor. When Apple gave Google maps the boot (due to competition and other differences), the company received great backlash as stated above.

    So why bring Google back? Well, in my opinion there are 3 reasons. 1.) Give the customers what they want. Google maps are obviously the best out there, so Apple must give the people what they want in order to ensure they are happy and loyal. 2.) Lose the battle, but win the war. If Apple has to lose a battle, let it be over an app, because as they have proven with Microsoft, they are winning the war by being the top technology company. 3.) Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. To have a competitor working with you has its pros/cons, but at least Apple can benefit off of the great app of Google instead of having Google prosper on their own.


  9. I really enjoyed reading this article because I have used the previous Apple Maps app on the iPhone and agree that it was TERRIBLE. Apple has certainly done an incredible job with producing the successful technology like the iPhone and MacBook Pro, leave it to Google to take care of the maps. It was obviously a very wise choice Apple made by allowing Google Maps back into their app store. I was blown away when I read that within days, Google Maps became the most downloaded App in App Store history. Yes, we all know that both Google and Apple are competitors, but when it comes to the maps, both companies can work together to bring in major profits.

  10. I personally had to use the “new” Apple Maps, which honestly felt backward. It was also a very puzzling move which did raise some outcry with current Apple customers. However, I do not believe that Apple lost that much business. iOS still remains one of the easiest operating systems to use and the fact that they brought Google Maps back shows their loyalty to the customers’ opinion. It was a terrible move by Apple, but Apple can not jeopardize the DNA of its company, the ease of use and reliability of the products, to compete with Google.

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