Monday, September 15, 2014 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Tim Cook Interview

Charlie Rose interviews Tim Cook, who has some interesting things to say, particularly about Steve Jobs. At this point, I think it would be hard to argue that anyone else would have been a better successor as CEO. Unfortunately, he still doesn’t have a satisfying explanation for the maps situation.

Update (2014-09-17): Serenity Caldwell:

We’ve put together edited highlights from his first hour chatting with the ABC talk show host about Apple’s new products, the Apple TV, Steve Jobs, and the future of the company.

Charlie Rose’s site has part 2 of the interview, as does YouTube.

10 Comments

"Unfortunately, he still doesn’t have a satisfying explanation for the maps situation."

I'm curious, what would be a satisfying explanation beyond their "we messed up, we're sorry" ?

Clearly it shipped too early with third party supplied data that was in rough shape and with expectations that were mismanged (Underpromise; Overdeliver).

@Bryan Satisfying would be a more specific description of what he thinks they did wrong. The problem wasn’t just the data. Why did it launch without a good way for users to report map errors? Did they think the data was better than it turned out to be, so good that it wouldn’t need many corrections? If so, how did they miss that in testing? Or does he think that it was right to launch it when they did but that expectations should have been set differently? If so, then he should acknowledge that iOS 6 removed key functionality from everyone’s phone with basically no warning and no known third-party replacement at the time of release.

Secondly, he keeps saying that they’re working on improving things but doesn’t give specifics. That’s understandable, but it also doesn’t give me any reason to believe that they know how to fix it. Two years later, it still seems far inferior to Google’s offering. Are they just going through the list of reports, fixing errors one-by-one? Buying better data? Creating their own data like Google does?

And, data aside, what’s going on with features like transit directions? Did Apple really think it was a good idea to remove them, or were they just not able to implement them at that time? Is this something they intend to fix? Some candor would be nice.

Not sure why you think Apple owes anyone outside the company that kind of detail and information. To be honest the level of detail you're asking for seems very unreasonable. From your description the failure of Apple Maps sounds like a huge catastrophe, but I'm not sure I agree. Seems a bit hyperbolic to me. I don't actually know anyone in real life that really ever thought about it.

Seems like maybe you were particularly affected by the data in Apple Maps more than most and so have taken it personally?

"If so, then he should acknowledge that iOS 6 removed key functionality from everyone’s phone with basically no warning and no known third-party replacement at the time of release"

I was never a Google Maps user on mobile but are you saying that when iOS 6 launched Google Maps stopped working?

But to your point, didn't they essentially do exactly that and acknowledge Maps wasn't making everyone happy? I seem to recall an open letter and app store links to other map apps, etc.

I can't really speak to any of your other complaints as my map needs are very modest and Apple Maps has done the job for me. I realize that everyone's needs are different, but I have to admit when I see posts like yours I tend get confused. I can't possibly see how Maps is a failure, but then it's been meeting my needs for two years. Yet others, such as yourself, are quite comfortable calling it a failure. I guess it's all in the expectations.

"Satisfying would be a more specific description of what he thinks they did wrong. The problem wasn’t just the data. Why did it launch without a good way for users to report map errors? Did they think the data was better than it turned out to be, so good that it wouldn’t need many corrections? If so, how did they miss that in testing? Or does he think that it was right to launch it when they did but that expectations should have been set differently?"

Mapz is hard.

Thermonuclear war with Google.

It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business.

Never admit error in PR.

"If so, then he should acknowledge that iOS 6 removed key functionality from everyone’s phone with basically no warning and no known third-party replacement at the time of release."

Spit-take all over my keyboard. Funniest thing I've read all day.

@Bryan @Chucky I’m not saying this is what Cook should have said; I’m saying that this is the sort of thing I would have found satisfying (which is what Bryan asked about).

I am not a particularly heavy user of maps, but I do find it to be one of the most useful iPhone features. The initial Apple Maps app was so bad that I delayed updating to iOS 6 for three months, until the Google Maps app became available. After the initial bad publicity about Apple Maps, I tested it with a few dozen of the recent locations I had searched for, and it was wildly incorrect on almost all of them. Later, after Apple had made some improvements, I gave it a try in the car for real, and it literally steered me to the wrong location several times.

Beyond the data, the rendering of the map details and labels is not up to par yet, either.

Yes, when you installed iOS 6 the old Maps app was deleted. I did not think that Cook’s open letter really acknowledged the extent of the problem, nor did it offer good solutions. There were no other maps apps in the store of comparable quality, and using maps.google.com in a mobile browser is just not a good experience, as Steve Jobs himself explained.

I guess this is sort of like Antennagate. Some people never saw what the fuss was about. Others went from having a working iPhone to literally having no signal at home and around town, even with a bumper, even holding it in the proper way.

When this was happening, I described why I think this is about more than just maps. Apple claims to be about the user experience, but in this case they knowingly degraded that for political reasons. Even with the Google Maps app, it’s still not back to iOS 5 levels because tapping an address opens it in Apple Maps, and third-party apps embed Apple’s maps.

I think the Maps situation should also explain why no ones corrections were actually used until this summer. There are still lots of minor issues to.

I think he won't address it because it's a situation of the management in charge of Maps screwing up even after the initial screwup. There have been rumors of some big changes in Maps this summer so hopefully it'll finally be significantly improving. Because it's still an embarrassment. Since the welcome changes (like finally making the changes I submitted the initial October) came after the rumored shakeup I can only think changes are happening.

I was a big user of Maps on iOS 5 and earlier and I'm a big user of Google Maps on iOS 6 and later.

@Bryan "Seems like maybe you were particularly affected by the data in Apple Maps more than most and so have taken it personally?"

I don't understand this statement. Either the data is correct or it's not. There's nothing personal about this. The data was amazingly incorrect/inaccurate. The satellite/plane photos were of poor quality.

"I was never a Google Maps user on mobile but are you saying that when iOS 6 launched Google Maps stopped working?"

There was no Google Maps app on the iPhone prior to iOS 6 because Apple and Google had a deal.

What he's saying is that the old Apple Maps application that was relying on the Google data was removed. This is the expected behavior since this is what they did with iMovie. But contrary to the disastrous iMovie update, it never was possible to put back the previous Apple Maps version that was just working fine.

@Michael "The initial Apple Maps app was so bad that I delayed updating to iOS 6 "

Same here, I had to update because iOS 6 is pre-installed on the iPhone 5. But I waited for Google Maps to be out to purchase this phone.

The new Apple Maps was slow, illegible and inaccurate.

It looks like the server side of the performance is slowly getting better. Inaccuracy, I can bear it for my usage. But crappy satellite/plane photos, I can't. And I can't do without StreetView (on an iPad).

This is why Apple Maps is on the last pane of the App dashboard (in very rare cases, the photos are more recent and of better quality than Google Maps) and Google Maps sits in the Dock on my iPhone and iPad.

And among the grief against Apple Maps, you forgot the "you can only use MapKit on a Mac application distributed through the Mac App Store" thing.

"Apple claims to be about the user experience, but in this case they knowingly degraded that for political reasons."

McDonald's claims to serve healthy food. Verizon FiOS claims to not throttle traffic from certain sources. I can claim to be the King of Scotland.

But no matter what they claim, ever since the iPhone allowed Apple to achieve a Microsoft '90's-era level of dominance, political reasons have pretty much always trumped UX whenever there is even the slightest conflict between the two.

(And, of course, what makes it all so frustration is that pre-dominance, they really did prioritize UX, since that made smart strategic sense for them. That was when I really loved Cupertino, which I most certainly don't anymore.)

"I’m not saying this is what Cook should have said; I’m saying that this is the sort of thing I would have found satisfying"

I don't think the Apple PR strategy of never admitting error and often stretching the bounds of truth beyond the breaking point is particularly healthy. In other words, I think Cook should indeed have said some watered down and euphemized version of what you would have found satisfying.

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"There have been rumors of some big changes in Maps this summer so hopefully it'll finally be significantly improving."

The problem is that it could improve for years and still not catch up to Google. Mapz is hard. And Google has been heavily and intelligently investing in it for a very long time.

A still-selfish, but simultaneously customer-friendly Apple could give its customers a pref to choose default mapping engines, while keeping the factory default set on Apple Maps. Most folks would never change the factory default, and customers who cared would be very happy. But I think we all know that ain't ever happening.

[…] the Charlie Rose interview, Cook said they would have to carry him out in a box before he let that happen. Of course, it is […]

"@Bryan "Seems like maybe you were particularly affected by the data in Apple Maps more than most and so have taken it personally?"

I don't understand this statement. Either the data is correct or it's not. There's nothing personal about this. The data was amazingly incorrect/inaccurate. The satellite/plane photos were of poor quality."

That's not true. Data can be correct and incorrect at the same time. You're making it sound like ALL the Maps data can ONLY be correct or not.

I'm saying that in two years of using Maps 4-5 times a week I've never once noticed incorrect data. Now I freely admit I'm not a "power user". I couldn't care less about transit directions or street view for example. I just need to know how to drive from point A to point B. And Maps has never failed me on that. I also live in Omaha which is a reasonably sane grid-style city.

That's what I mean by personal. For others incorrect data may affect them greatly. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be if Maps somehow messed up my home address all the time and couldn't navigate to or from my house.

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