Apple's map-app mea culpa

CEO Tim Cook, who addressed Apple's error-ridden new mobile mapping service. Apple was "extremely sorry," he said, and invited frustrated users to consult the competition.
CEO Tim Cook, who addressed Apple's error-ridden new mobile mapping service. Apple was "extremely sorry," he said, and invited frustrated users to consult the competition. (ERIC RISBERG / AP)

''Sorry'' plus advice: Use rival's map service.

Posted: September 30, 2012

NEW YORK - Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized Friday for the company's error-ridden new mobile mapping service, pledging to improve the application installed on tens of millions of smartphones and, in an unusual mea culpa, inviting frustrated consumers to turn to the competition.

In a letter posted online Friday, Cook said Apple "fell short" of its own expectations.

"Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us," Cook said, "and we will keep working nonstop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard."

Apple released an update to its iPhone and iPad operating system last week that replaced Google Maps with Apple's own map application. But users quickly complained that the new software offered fewer details, lacked public-transit directions, and misplaced landmarks, among other problems.

People have been flocking to social media to complain and make fun of the app's glitches, which include judging landscape features by their names. The hulking Madison Square Garden arena in New York, for instance, shows up as green park space because of the word "garden."

Until the software is improved, Cook recommended that people use competing map applications to get around - a rare move for the world's most valuable company, which prides itself on producing industry-leading gadgets that easily surpass rivals.

Apple has made missteps in the past - even under founder and CEO Steve Jobs, whose dogged perfectionism was legendary.

"I think they are clearing the air and, more importantly, clarifying why they had to do their own maps," said Tim Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst who has followed Apple for more than three decades.

He recalled an infamous problem with the iPhone 4's antenna that caused reception issues when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand. Jobs apologized, though he denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Apple quickly recovered.

Cook's remarks went further, saying the company was "extremely sorry" and pledging to make swift improvements.

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