There’s been a lot of hullaballoo made about the iOS 6 Maps app and how it doesn’t display certain landmarks in some cities, returns the wrong results on occasion, and has a wonky flyover display. The complaining has gotten so noisy that Apple CEO Tim Cook actually issued an apology for the shoddy app.
But is it really that big a deal? Personally, I haven’t had any problems with it. I actually like the new turn-by-turn directions. A new survey released Friday by Changewave Research suggests that other people aren’t that hung up on the new Maps app either. In a survey of some 4,200 people, only 10% of those who have purchased an iPhone 5 or downloaded iOS 6 said that they’ve experienced a problem with the new Maps app. Fully 90% said they haven’t experienced any problem with the new Maps app.
But is it dampening sales numbers? It doesn’t look like it. Fully one-in-three survey respondents said they are likely to buy the iPhone 5 in the future, and the remaining two-thirds who aren’t planning to buy an iPhone 5 said that it’s because their current cell phone is sufficient and they don’t need a new one. Exactly 0% of respondents said they aren’t buying the iPhone 5 because of the Maps debacle.
To put the current iPhone 5 situation into perspective, Changewave researchers compared it to Antennagate—the controversy over the iPhone 4’s weird antenna issue that resulted in poor reception for some. At that time, fully 35% of survey respondents who had purchased an iPhone 4 said that they had encountered a problem with reception, with 7% saying it presented a very big problem. Only two-thirds of those with an iPhone 4 said that they hadn’t experienced any problems with reception. So comparing that to the iPhone 5 Maps issue, it looks like this may have been blown out of proportion.
Nevertheless, Tim Cook felt the need to issue an apology to fanboys everywhere.
“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,” Cook wrote in a letter posted on Apple’s website last month. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”
Interestingly, Cook added just enough of an explanation to all but confirm rumors that Apple’s reason for dropping Google Maps had to do with the fact that Google was unwilling to offer turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, and other features that it offers for its own Android OS. Cook explains in the letter that Apple wanted to offer those features in its Maps app, but to do so, “we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.”
Google Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt was asked about the Maps debacle in Tokyo last month, where he told reporters that Google has not submitted its own Maps app to the App Store for consideration.
"We think it would have been better if they had kept ours. But what do I know?" he added. "What were we going to do, force them not to change their mind? It's their call."
Apple shares have fallen precipitously in the last month, from a high of $704 in September to $629 today.