A few words on Tim Cook’s “Letter from Tim Cook on Maps”

Today, Apple has come out with yet another PR jewel. I can’t resist and have to almost go through it sentence by sentence. It’s that good.

First, Tim says that Apple strives “to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers”, then “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment”. Only two sentences into it but the brilliance is already shining through. Note how he does not say that the new Maps are bad, they are just short of being “best experience possible” and if you think about it, what product ever isn’t?

“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better” Again, he is extremely sorry for “the frustration”, not for a delivering a bad product. This is where I just have to point out that Apple had no reasons to jam a half backed Map offering that it cobbled together in a hurry as it had at least one more year left in its contract with Google, so it had plenty of time to get it right and not frustrate its customer if it really cared to.

So how does Timmy explain that rush decision? Well, let’s keep reading on “We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.” He is clearly not giving Google any credit for the “initial” version of Maps, and really does not explain why they had to replace a product that basically worked, with something that didn’t.

Now, for some customary chest pounding “There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations”. I really think this is done in a very poor taste… If you say you are sorry, then just say you are sorry, it’s like saying, sorry, I never paid you back but I had a total blast with that money in Las Vegas.

Then, moving on to the most ridiculous and unsubstantiated statement of the day “The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.” I am not a maptologist but I suspect that the reason Google maps are great is because it employs thousands of people in its Map division (unlike Apple that employs fraction of that number) and it’s equipped with hundreds of Google Vans that are zipping around collecting data. Sorry, but the more you use it the better you get argument sounds a little silly to me.

Well, next paragraph is another gem “While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.” While I find it humorous that the first suggested alternative was Microsoft’s product, you kind of have to ask yourself, why would Apple not make Google maps available alongside the new Apple Maps and let customers chose whichever product they like. But “Choice” is a cancer world in Apple echo system, which is why Apple customers almost never have one.

Let’s keep on keeping on though, the letter is almost over and we have not contradicted ourselves quite yet, actually I think the next sentence may do just that “Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world”, well clearly not, or you would not have to have written this letter to begin with. And by the way, for somebody who is so driven to be the best one can be, there is still nothing in the letter that explains why Apple made the decision to deliver a suboptimal product to its customers and unfortunately “We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard” does not shed any more light on this arrogant decision than the rest of the letter.

All in all, a brilliant way of saying sorry, without admitting doing anything wrong…

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