Tim Cook Is "Extremely Sorry" for Apple's Crummy iPhone Maps

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 28 2012 9:52 AM

Tim Cook Apologizes for Apple's Crummy iPhone Maps

Tim Cook apology
Tim Cook hopes you'll forgive him and keep buying his pricey gadgets.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Tim Cook isn't just regular-old sorry for how bad Apple's new maps app for its iPhone has turned out to be. He's extremely sorry.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

The Apple honcho on Friday issued a public apology on Apple.com, and he put some verbal oomph into it. Here's Cook's full statement:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

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.
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. 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.
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.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. 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.
Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO
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Sounds like he means it, right? But if Cook's "mapplegate" mea culpa was more sincere than that of his predecessor, Steve Jobs, when the iPhone 4's antenna malfunctioned, it was also missing something: a refund. In 2010, Jobs told Apple users he was "deeply sorry" for the iPhone 4's issues, then went on to blast the media for blowing the issue out of proportion. Customers forgave him his defensiveness, though, when he offered them their choice of a free case or their money back.

That probably would have been too much to ask of Cook here (though the first pilot who tries to land his plane on a farm might feel differently). Instead he swallowed his pride and suggested that dissatisfied customers give some of Apple's maps competitors a try. Admitting that some might prefer even Google's web-based maps to Apple's native app could not have been a happy moment for Cook, but no doubt it's true. Turn-by-turn navigation is a wonderful feature if it works reliably. Otherwise, it's worse than no navigation at all.

That said, Cook's earnest-sounding apology should do Apple's reputation more good than harm in the long term—especially at a time when Google's own subsidiary, Motorola, is under fire for using a fake address in an ad to show how Apple's maps fail to find it.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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