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Experts applaud Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology over Maps misstep

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 1, 2012
Apple CEO Tim Cook today apologized to users for the substandard Apple Maps app in iOS 6, and steered them toward alternatives including Microsoft's Bing app and Google's online Maps.

"I think this is more humble than Jobs' letters," Gottheil said in an email reply to questions. "Jobs tended to introduce mitigating circumstances and assertions of Apple's overall superiority. While often factually correct, they undercut the company's sincerity."

And Rick pointed out that Cook's letter covered all the important bases.

"He acknowledges the problem ('we fell short'); expresses contrition ('we are extremely sorry'); doesn't make excuses; offers workarounds (even mentioning Google -- Wow!); employs statistics to sugarcoat the bad news (100 million devices; half a billion locations); and promises to do better (we'll 'keep working nonstop')," said Rick, also via email. "The letter is also promoted on Apple's homepage, which is exclusive real estate."

Gottheil echoed that.

"I think this is the right thing to do, from the perspective of a business action, and from the perspective of treating your customers with respect," he said. "It's fairly rapid, makes no attempt to minimize the problem, offers immediate solutions, and commits to addressing the problem.

"A true apology, a rare thing these days," Gottheil said. "Although they never really completely fix things, a real apology always helps."

But some were less willing to cut Apple much slack.

"It is a good move for Apple to acknowledge the low quality of Apple Maps, but they should have never released it in the first place," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, who last week blasted Apple, calling the maps issue as bad as the "Antennagate" dustup in 2010. "They should have called it a beta, worked hard to improve, then re-release when it was high quality."

Dany Gaspar, director of digital strategy at Levick, a Washington, D.C. firm that helps companies deal with public relations emergencies, agreed that Cook's letter is a good start, but ultimately unsatisfactory.

"While I applaud Apple for taking this initial step, I feel they still fell a little short," said Gaspar. "Apple needs to convey a message that they are taking the necessary steps to regain their customers' trust. This should include changes they are making internally to their mapping development team and adding the option to download the Google Maps app."

"Apple's stumble is legitimate news," said Gottheil. "Nevertheless, this takes away the 'arrogant Apple' aspect.

Most experts believe that the maps brouhaha will not significantly affect sales of Apple's new iPhone 5, which is powered by iOS 6.



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