This has been a big year for Apple. Of course, every year for the past five years has been relatively big for Apple, but hey—we finally have the iPhone 5! And iOS6! And a fantastic new maps app!. . . Wait, what's that? Hold on, there was drama surrounding the app because it didn't have the normal coat of polish that most Apple products have? And both Google Maps and Youtube apps are no where to be found in iOS6? Oh my, I feel weak, I need to take a breather.
Apple recently released the iPhone 5 along with iOS6. With these releases, they've introduced their own maps and navigation app to questionable fanfare. Should Apple be concerned about the more-than-usual bad press?
Okay, I'm good now. I just needed to cuddle with my functionally sound Samsung Galaxy S3. Amazingly, it was able to tell me how to navigate from freak out mode to sanity once again. How do the following amazingly intelligent individuals feel about Apple's current drama?
"They should be concerned for a few reasons, but not the obvious one some people may raise: will the maps issue have any impact on sales of the iPhone 5? I think everyone agrees that the five million devices sold over the first weekend – after it had been well-documented that the maps app was an issue – makes that a moot point. And let’s also differentiate between the maps and navigation. While of course the navigation relies on the accuracy of the maps, the turn-by-turn voice navigation and easy-to-read street signs are clearly an upgrade from Google. But yes, the accuracy is an issue and currently Google by far has the better overall maps app.
Further exacerbating this situation is the attention they covet and force upon themselves. You can’t hold press conferences and make a spectacle of a phone launch and then not expect the media and consumers to exploit issues when they develop. They set themselves up for this extra scrutiny in comparison to a more subtle launch; although, they were not going to hide this flaw and hope they could work out the issues by themselves before anyone found out.
What they do need to be concerned about is the loss of their total control and dominance over consumers. No longer will people follow them blindly and assume everything works perfectly, nor defend them as vigorously when issues arise. They will be like every other company that has to prove itself, even to its most loyal customers. Tech reviewers will spend more time trying to exploit glitches and imperfections. Apple can regain control by launching the next device with no significant issues, known or unknown, and position maps as a one-off issue and not a slippage in engineering, marketing, quality control or communications.
What could they have done better this time around? Simple: better manage expectations. More specifically, they should have: 1) Let people know maps was still in beta mode, just as Siri remains on the iPhone 5 after her prior introduction, and that only a full product introduction will allow them to work out the known kinks with the help and support of dedicated Apple users; and 2) They should have continued to offer Google Maps until the next iPhone comes out, at which time their own maps app should be able to stand on its own. Enacting one – and certainly both – of these management-expectation scenarios would have bought them more time and allowed them to stay in front of the situation instead of appearing to be caught off guard.
I’m sure a few people were fired and some new policies for product introductions will be put into place so this isn’t repeated in the future. Now if they could just control Foxconn." ~Brian (@bschaffer)