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Apple Maps was Steve Jobs' idea, but that misses the point

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Apple Maps was Steve Jobs' idea, but that misses the point
There is a new report from Bloomberg that shouldn't surprise you in the least: the decision to build an Apple Maps app for iOS came from none other than Steve Jobs. Of course, what is interesting is that Bloomberg is still trying to push the narrative that the entire plan was put in place because of Jobs' hatred of Android. That was surely the reason to look for an alternative to simply offering Google Maps on iOS, but it doesn't explain why Apple would spend the resources to build its own Maps app, rather than partner with another company like Nokia. 

According to the report, Jobs started the project to build an in-house Maps app. He put mobile software chief Forstall in charge of the project, and "installed a secret team on the third floor of Building 2 on Apple’s campus to replace Google Maps on the iPhone." In a way, it feels almost like that story about Nikita Khrushchev, and his "write two letters" suggestion to his successor. The first letter, to be opened in a time of crisis, says "Blame me for everything," and that sort of feels like the move here. Like we're supposed to forgive a bad product because it was simply the company following through on the wishes of its fallen leader, which isn't really the right way to look at it. Steve Jobs may have started the project, but it was Tim Cook's choice to release it when he did. Of course, the report also claims that Jobs' hatred of Google was the only reason for the move, which is an idea that makes for good headlines, but it's an idea that is also somewhat absurd, and it's an idea that we've tried to flesh out a bit recently. 

Sure, Jobs' had a vendetta against Android, and wanted to remove Google from iOS, that's not under debate. But, that wasn't the only factor in the decision. Remember, even if Apple had updated the Google Maps app for iOS, it still wouldn't have had turn-by-turn navigation or vector graphics, because Google wanted to keep those as competitive advantages for Android. So, Apple had to look for another option. 

Apple began pulling in acquisitions to build its own Maps app back in July of 2009. At the time, the fate of Nokia was still up in the air. It's hard to argue that Apple didn't have the money to buy Nokia, or at least license Nokia Maps. Apple could have licensed maps from a number of sources. But, that idea misses the point, just like the idea that the entire reasoning for the change was the hatred of Google. 

As we said recently, the future of mobile is in the data a company can collect on its users, and the services that can be provided with that data. Maps is a way to collect huge amounts of data from travel tendencies to a users likes and dislikes as learned through place reviews. Apple wanted to have full control of that data, and didn't want to share it with a competitor (especially one that it had a vendetta against.) This is not a new idea. It's a major reason why Google got into the mobile business, and it's why companies like Amazon also joined the mobile world. It's also why Amazon has started building its own maps service for its Kindle Fire line. 

The real question that the report misses is whether or not Steve Jobs would have allowed a product as clearly flawed as Apple's Maps to be released. Steve always tended to err on the side of holding back until a product was fully ready, and iOS Maps is clearly not ready for prime time. A certain amount of the problems can be attributed to the fact that it is a first generation product, but it is still not good enough, and certainly not up to Jobs' usual standards. It's hard to say just how much better Apple Maps could have been with just more in-house development, and without the help of the crowd. Still, it's hard to imagine Steve Jobs with his obsession to accuracy would have allowed the mess of iOS Maps to be released, especially given that there was still a year on the Google deal. That could have been a year to put in a lot of work on Apple's Maps. 

39 Comments
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posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:13 24

1. bbblader (Posts: 580; Member since: 24 Oct 2011)


''But that misses the point'' with a few miles south from the real location

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:36 8

6. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)


hahaahaha^^ rofl....

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 04:37 5

25. cheetah2k (Posts: 844; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


Indeed. ROFL... Apple has resorted to blaming a dead person for their own woes.. Crazy isnt it....

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:51 5

9. phljcnth (Posts: 269; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


I believe 10-mile error is not that few.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:50 2

17. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


10-mile error is insignificant in Apple Maps.. It's like the 20m accuracy in GMap when you are using GPS with a clear view of sky.. That's the best accuracy you can get with Apple Maps..

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 04:10 1

24. JonBjSig (Posts: 176; Member since: 17 Nov 2011)


20m is the best?
I get accuracy down to maybe 4 or 5 meters pretty often.
With just GPS, no GLONASS.

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:55 5

10. PersianHobo (Posts: 56; Member since: 29 Sep 2012)


"you have reached the city of your destination"

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:37 3

23. PhenomFaz (Posts: 1087; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


RIP Steve Jobs (Respect!) but RIP Apple Maps as well (good riddence!)

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 10:10 1

35. CDGMobile (Posts: 29; Member since: 26 Sep 2012)


Yeah they need to stop looking for a scape goat. Just say that your app was whack like we know it is alright leave Steve in his rest

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:05 3

26. andro. (Posts: 1962; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Apple maps have an uncanny ability to find directions for its users to find the nearest apple store however

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:13 5

2. wendygarett (unregistered)


I always love Apple maps
Thank you Steve jobs :D

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:04 17

12. shayan (Posts: 148; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


this is the kind of support that I hate. its not a football team that U love no matter what.
but apple is a compony working for us! customers! why would U love it if the product is bad?

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:30 3

22. rgxVOiD (Posts: 435; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


I think you missed the sarcasm

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:12

29. Peter98 (Posts: 119; Member since: 01 Aug 2012)


U r right! Consumers one the best because we pay. My opinion, Steve Jobs won't release a failure products.

posted on 05 Oct 2012, 18:47

39. pkiran1996 (Posts: 165; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


Wendy. On every article I read you seem to always post an irrelevant comment which doesn't even express a view. Sometimes I wonder if this is just a fake account to annoy people. A typical Wendy comment would be 'I love my iPhone' or 'Apple is so cool'.

Even iOS supporters admit iOS maps is a complete fail so I really can't understand how or why you are enjoying it so much.

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:17 3

3. rusticguy (Posts: 2828; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Shows where anything based on "Hatred" leads to. Apple should elarn instead of trying to push these stories through meida which of course would do anything for money. So what if SJ hated Android? With all the hate and money could he achieve what he wanted ... except for perhaps airingf same old rhetorics tirelessly?

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:23 11

4. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8706; Member since: 14 May 2012)


www.jpegy.com/images/uploads/2012/10/Amelia-Earhart-loved-Apple-Maps.jpg

Lol I just had to.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:24 1

27. Hammerfest (Posts: 369; Member since: 12 May 2012)


the sad part is that I can only give you one thumbs up...

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:29 10

5. bayusuputra (Posts: 941; Member since: 12 Feb 2012)


it's because of hatred, or simply because Jobs wanted to make everything himself. I am not surprised if he had plans to make apple search engine, apple video sharing site, apple map, apple mail, etc.. it's hatred, greed and selfishness..

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:39 4

7. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)


exactly which is the very essence of pride.........pride says "im better than you" and pride says "i dont care about you all i care about is me"...sorry but these are the main reasons why this company is being brought low......they have been on top for too long and now justice is being served......and not the kind of justice found in a court room either.. judgement is being passed over the apple corporation and it aint gonna be good for them...

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:42 14

8. frydaexiii (Posts: 1236; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)


Is the point of this article just to point out that "Hey! It's made by Steve Jobs, you all should love it cos the guy's a genius!". Because, no, Apple Maps still sucks...

posted on 03 Oct 2012, 23:56 4

11. infernal88 (Posts: 113; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)


exactly my idea ,, first came in mind that mostly apple now uses this " was steve jobs idea" as marketing technique ... thinking " and most probably right " that by this ,ppl will accept the product watever is the out come quality

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:20 1

31. jroc74 (Posts: 4974; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


I think part of the article that doesn't get talked about more is that Google didn't want turn by turn with voice and vector graphics on iOS, and wanted that exclusive to Android.

Nothing wrong with that, but thats why Apple wanted to do their own thing. Maybe thats why Apple didn't wanna bother with Nokia....didn't wanna risk the same thing happening.

I also dont think Jobs woulda allowed Apple Maps in its current form to be released. To me...it seems like some or someone at Apple is trying to carve their own way after Jobs death and it might hurt them more than help them right now.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 17:27 1

38. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2681; Member since: 26 May 2011)


That reminded me of a bit I forgot to add in the article. When I first read it, it seemed more like a push for "don't blame us, it was Steve's idea", which is still a terrible cop-out.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:28 1

13. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)


In the long run apple having its own mapping solution will be beneficial to them.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:34

14. good2great (Posts: 1039; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


yeah this is absurd... the man is dead... sure he had projects in place to carry on after his death but Tim Cook or any other CEO will always have their own intentions with taking a project on to completion... I see "good business" in Tim, will it water down apple's exclusivity??? Yes! but like android's best accomplishment, it will be better for consumers in the long run... things are changing slowly but that horrible apple odor will leave in a few years...

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:50 2

16. ilia1986 (unregistered)


Even IF all of the lawsuits were initiated by Steve - Cook could have easily stopped them. But he didn't.

Good buisiness? No sir. No good at all.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 01:06

18. XPERIA-KNIGHT (unregistered)


right! but they will have to go low before they can rise again...jus the way its gotta be

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 00:48

15. phil2n (Posts: 473; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


the real point here is "FAILED"

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 01:26

19. tiara6918 (Posts: 1445; Member since: 26 Apr 2012)


ios maps is an ifail better go with google maps instead.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 02:02

20. quakan (Posts: 1199; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)


People are making the maps app a bigger issue than it really is. iOS is still great and there are other alternatives to Apple Maps. You can't even call this a fail with the number of sales and revenue they're raking in not to mention that Apple is still on its way to being worth a trillion dollars. Soon enough this will all blow over and we'll be talking about how crazy it is that Apple's value will be over $800 billion.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:43

33. Aeires (unregistered)


5 Sales were great but didn't meet expectations, and you obviously haven't been following AAPL. It's going to take more than the iPad Mini to really elevate them to the level you are thinking of, assuming the Mini doesn't take sales away from the full sized iPad.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 03:12

21. RapidCat (Posts: 351; Member since: 12 Jun 2012)


iFail, because steve jobs make something base on hatred

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 05:33

28. Miley_3d (Posts: 16; Member since: 02 Oct 2012)


lol!!!

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:16

30. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


SO now they blame their problems on a dead man? now thats pathetic

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 07:40 1

32. Aeires (unregistered)


The release of Siri was a sign that things were starting to get derailed. It was Jobs who released Siri and it wasn't anywhere near being completed and ready for mainstream consumption. A year later and it still has a long way to go.

Apple making their own maps application was a logical move, anyone that creates the software and designs the phone should be thinking of having their own system in place. Unfortunately their implementation was far less than stellar.

When I look at Siri and Apple Maps, I see desperation. The 4S needed a final sales punch to set it apart from the 4 model and Siri was the answer. Thing is though, the 5 had 4G and a 4" screen, it didn't need a new mapping system. Why Apple was so set on forcing it out too early will probably remain a mystery for a long time.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 09:16 1

34. maxican16 (Posts: 363; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)


Michael, I enjoyed your previous apple maps article. This one, eh... you give Jobs far too much credit as a human being.

I think Bloomberg is much more accurate; he wanted to oust Google Maps (or anything Google related for that matter) from his phone. The man doesn't come up with the (stupid) "go thermonuclear" on android quote without utter hatred.

Bloomberg called it for what it was, and I'm not buying your "data mining" reason. Was that a bonus? Sure.

But it all stemmed from Steve Jobs' ENORMOUS ego. End of story.

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 10:20

36. intos (Posts: 87; Member since: 06 Jan 2012)


its stills an idea...

posted on 04 Oct 2012, 14:16

37. downphoenix (Posts: 2359; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


I think Jobs would have let Maps bake for another year and wait to launch it until their Google deal ended.

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