Apple says sorry for Maps, but is it too late?

For many smartphone operators, Google Maps was one of the most used applications.

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It would tap into GPS technology to locate live positions on a map, create routes, and search destinations relatively reliably.

The app came preinstalled on all iPhones, until Apple launched the new iPhone 5 and iOS6 mobile operating system, which many users with older iPhone devices downloaded.

In its latest version, Apple deleted YouTube which is owned by Google but can still be downloaded as an app, along with Google Maps, replacing it with its own Apple Maps app.

It however, has been slammed by users because it incorrectly labelled some cities and countries, misplaced some landmarks, along with some distorted images of key infrastructure.

It wasn’t up to Apple’s usual high standard, and the company knew it.

Overnight, its CEO, Tim Cook took the unusual step to post an apology on the company’s website.

He acknowledged the criticism of the new software saying, “At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers” adding, “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”

Mr Cook said, as more people used Apple Maps, the better it will get.

He did however, suggest unhappy customers use competitors’ map apps in the meantime.

“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.”

It raises the question, will Apple’s move to launch, by its own admission, an inferior replacement to Google Maps, hurt its brand?

Technology commentator, Trevor Long tells me, “Apple as a company is not used to doing things badly, Apple Maps is a disappointment to the company, and will be ‘that thing’ that pundits use to chip away at the brand for years ahead. So in that sense, there is definitely brand damage.”

“But in reality, the company is judged on a lot more than one App. The iPhone 5 is its best selling phone ever, and the financial results won’t show any indication of the ‘map problem’. The bigger question is, would this have happened under Steve Jobs, and is that a sign of future brand damage?”

The other question is, are there more teething problems with the operating system?

There is anecdotal evidence of Wi-Fi connection problems on older iPhone models running iOS6 and more frequent coverage dropouts.

Don’t forget, the other issues that came along with previous iPhone launches. The iPhone 4 had problems with its internal antenna if held in a certain way, so Apple offered a free case to try to fix that. Then the iPhone 4S disappointed some people because Siri, the voice personal assist didn’t live up to their expectations by not always understanding spoken actions.

Still, all of that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from hitting Apple stores. Apple has sold five million iPhone 5s during the first three days in stores last week, and that doesn’t include the devices sold online.

Investors though, have sold down the stock, closing at US$667.10 on the Nasdaq overnight, down from an all time high of US$705.07 reached last week.

Have you encountered problems with the iPhone5 or iOS6?