Friday, September 21, 2012

Ramblings on Apple Maps

Apologies up front, this is more a stream of thought, as opposed to some well thought out and properly articulated post. There isn’t anything technical about this post. Far smarter folks already have all that figured out.

Been a while since I posted anything, so why post on this? Short answer, I find it interesting on several levels. I have had several friends who are not in the geo field ping me today regarding the ‘new maps’ on their iPhone. I guess everyone on the planet updated last night. Well not everyone, I tend to be a late adaptor.  Side note- It is pretty dang cool that my wife (not a technologist) has updated 3 devices in the past 18 hours without plugging into a laptop or asking me what to do next. --- That is a big win and would be pretty interesting to understand that IT feat.

There has been plenty written on how, what, and why Apple has or hasn’t done. Not to mention how good or bad the new maps are and all of the functionality or data they don’t contain as compared to Google. This post is worth a read I do not personally know the author but do know he is well versed in the geo / location field. I obviously have no idea what Apple is attempting to do with maps or why they choose to get in the game. Marc poses some thoughts that make logical sense.
Since everyone seems to have an opinion--- here is my off the cuff thoughts….

The “experts” say geo (LBS) is (or is going to be) really important. Apple ran the numbers and figured ‘if we can capture x% of that market then we will call it a win.’ Then they looked at their mobile device sells and figured, yup let’s go for it. My poor analogy would be Google deciding to get into the mobile device market. Let’s all admit, that effort didn’t get off to a great start. Will Android devices gain more market share than iDevices? Do they have too?  If they grab just x% of the mobile market they can justify being there. That is a rambling way of getting to - Apple doesn’t have to ‘own’ the whole market to claim financial success. They only have to capture a portion to justify being there. --- Side note, my wife and daughter have both used the Apple Maps (is that the name) today. Neither has run into my office to tell me how bad they are.

A roll out of this magnitude is going to be rough. I don’t think that means you lose. It just means the waters are going to be rough for a while. Way I see it Apple has enough money to give this a try. If it works, they captured part of a market, if it doesn’t they pay someone else to let them use their service. They could probably even go back to Google for enough money. Sure a lot of people will get to write a bunch of stuff about what a ‘failure that was’, but let’s be honest – we will all forget about it within a couple of weeks. So while Apple Maps good, bad or indifferent are what a number of folks are talking about today, I seriously doubt it will stay on most folks minds past 5:00 pm today (nice timing, huh).

I don’t claim to know much so take this next bit with a very small grain of salt.- If I were working in the Apple Maps group I would be watching the stats as I worked on the fixes. Don’t let the blah, blah, blah drive the decisions, and let the numbers drive the direction. Google does this masterfully. Watch the stats over the next 6 months - year to determine if Apple Maps is retaining the x% of the market to justify staying in the market. Then make a decision. I would also offer up Apple should follow a second thing Google is good at, which is failing fast. Maintaining and providing maps is a rabbit whole. After whatever the right amount of time is (I don’t have any idea), if Apple Maps hasn’t captured and retained x% of the market share to justify its existence then it should punt.

So what is x%? Are you kidding me? I have no idea! I figure some really smart person with a whole bunch more letters after their name than I have has run those numbers. I would say it is a safe beat that Apple has plenty of $ to throw at this, they have the talent, so if they have the leadership and management support there is no reason why they can’t succeed. The only question is what does success look like in the eyes of Apple?


  1. Getting millions of users to provide feedback via 'report a problem' is way better than spending billions on data or getting millions of gps tracks, imo. So what if it's got issues now, they'll get fixed, especially if you have an army of off-shore mouse drivers to referee and make the edits on reported problems. Pretty sure that was the 2010 Google strategy and it seemed to work very quickly.

    Feedback + Cheap Labor + Your Own Centralized Platform

  2. In Apple Maps the interface is changed, though not negatively so, and the performance will depend on the speed of your connection. Of course, that was also the case with Google's app, but the browser is a different feature so performance will vary.

  3. I really appreciate your post, thank you for sharing. Apple Maps app failed to show correct directions. And i am surely say Google will probably release a standalone app for them.


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Little Rock, Arkansas, United States