Pride Comes Before a Fall
The problem is such a monumental undertaking has clearly taken up a huge amount of Apple’s iOS development time and resources. iOS Maps is the only major new feature in iOS6 for a reason yet its realisation only makes the platform worse, at least initially. Now the backlash has started Apple has to give up even more time and resources which could and should have been spent elsewhere.
When will this end? It is hard to say. If Apple goes a step further and rejects a Google Maps iOS app the answer will be: for many years. Conversely if Apple accepts an app the risk is the feeling Google is riding to the rescue. It is also worth remembering, like YouTube, Google Maps on iOS was a crippled implementation. YouTube improved dramatically when its native restrictions were cut and Google could surely improve a Google Maps app far faster than Apple can resuscitate iOS Maps. The disparity would grow. In 2007 Nokia bought Navteq and Nokia Maps is now widely acclaimed. Given its role with Google and foundation in BlackBerry Maps maybe Apple should’ve just bought TomTom… but it didn’t.
The millstone with a jet pack
All of which means iOS Maps is going to be a millstone around Apple’s neck for years to come. Critics have even forecast it could spell the end for Apple, poetically brought down by its own ego. But to write off the biggest company in the world is foolhardy, regardless of whether it has bitten off more than it can chew. Yes iOS Maps is a long term money pit. Yes UIs are moving on from Apple’s rigid grid icons towards dynamic widgets and tiles. Yes iPhone hardware is now largely playing catch-up, ”but” Apple maintains a huge weapon: eight, five, seven, seventeen and three.
Apple can improve iOS for all in an instant with its unilateral software updates. Whereas Google Android 4.1 has barely passed one per cent adoption in three months, 15 per cent of all iOS traffic came from iOS6 equipped devices within 24 hours of its release. Apple knows Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 has the potential to do the same, but with just a four per cent market share – for now – there are bigger fish to fry.
As such, regular and innovative iOS updates need to flow throughout the lifetime of iOS6 and by iOS7 major reinvention must be the order of the day. Apple primarily made iOS6 to satisfy itself, in 12 months time the focus needs to be back on customers…