With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
— Tim Cook, September 28, 2012
Apple broke its ties with Google which resulted in not only removing the YouTube app from iOS6, but mainly in replacing Google Maps with Apple’s own mapping solution. Everything got even more interesting after it turned out that Apple’s contract with Google still had a year to go and that it was Apple’s decision to terminate it early. While the YouTube app is now already available for download from the App store, Google Maps app for iOS does not exist and iOS6 users are stuck with clearly inferior (both from data quality and feature perspective) Apple maps. This is my own no-inside-information theory about why Apple launched Maps even though this service was not ready for prime-time.
In the olden days (read: before they became competitors), Apple and Google representatives used to sit on each others management boards. But then Google started eating Apple’s cake (especially thanks to Android) and Apple’s management became almost obsessed with annihilating their main competitor. Being so dependent on Google for such a vital part of modern smartphone functionality as maps are was not what Apple would want to tolerate for longer than absolutely necessary. Moreover, Google’s maps experience on Android have been superior for years and Apple could do nothing about it. So over three years ago Apple started acquiring talent and technologies and building partnerships in order to come up with their own mapping service. But as Apple painfully learned later, building a world-wide mapping solution that can compete with Google Maps is extremely hard, even for a company with almost unlimited funds.
Now, why Apple did that? It is almost certain that already months before iOS6 was announced, Apple’s engineers and testers must have known that their maps will not be ready on time. They knew their product is getting better every day, they were ironing out bugs, adding more and more data, making maps more accurate. But they must have known they are not going to make it on time. And they must have raised it to Apple’s senior management: Maps will not be market-ready for iOS6 launch. At least not to Apple’s standards.
However, Apple’s choices in this situation were extremely limited and none of the possible options was very palatable. Delay iOS6 launch? Call Google and ask if the contract Apple terminated could be re-instated again? Tell everyone that iOS will not have Apple maps after all? In the end Apple management chose to stick to their guns (and to hope that ‘it won’t be so bad’). Unfortunately for Apple, their hopes died just a day after iOS6 was released when reports about errors, missing cities, incorrectly named continents etc. started coming from all over the world.
Today, a week later, Apple’s CEO formally acknowledged the problem, apologised and even suggested alternative mapping apps users may want to consider until Apple’s own maps get into shape. To be fair, it takes balls to openly say such a thing, especially given Apple’s pride in their products and their ‘policy’ of shipping only when ready. Now Apple has just one task — to work really hard to improve their Maps significantly enough to get back to the game because when (not if) Google releases their own Maps app for iOS, Apple’s job will be much harder. Customers tend to be unforgiving…
Over the past 6 months we’ve been logging the new devices that download OpenSignalMaps, we’ve based this study on 681,900 of these devices. We’ve looked at model, brand, API level (i.e. the version of Android) and screen size and we’ve tried to present this in the clearest form we can
We’ve spotted 3997 distinct devices. It comes as no suprise that the GT-i1900 (the Galaxy SII) is the most popular - with 61,389 users downloading OSM in the last 6 months.
A very interesting analysis and graphs about the diverse universe of Android devices on the market today. According to this study Samsung has about 40% of the market, but there’s hundreds of other makers and even more HW variants. While such a wide variety may seem great from consumer’s perspective, it is a nightmare for developers and, as a result, detrimental for the consumer too as it is very difficult to support so many device variants in parallel and developers are forced to prioritise. In the better case, consumers therefore either have to wait longer for their device to be properly supported. In the worse case, their device will never get the app or the OS version they are waiting for as the incremental cost for the developer (or carrier in case of deploying new Android version) is just too high. Compare this with a way simpler iOS landscape…
So it’s 3rd of May today and that means that Google has about a month to start proving that the promises it made earlier this year. Let’s recap what we can look forward to:
- Google TV will be on majority of new TVs
- Android apps will be beating iOS apps to the market
- Android tablet of “the highest quality” (auto-translated)
It’s great. Only one month to go all this will be a reality. Or could it be that Eric Schmidt was perhaps a bit too ambitious? I mean, it’s great to aim high, but these are very serious claims. And if Google fails to deliver, their credibility in terms of any future predictions will be seriously undermined.
Fragmentation in practice. Gingerbread and Froyo by far still the most dominant. But ICS finally getting some traction too.