Two senior Apple executives have admitted being “embarrassed” at how badly received the Maps service was in 2012, in a rare admission of failure by the company and an insight into how it dealt with the fallout.
Eddy Cue, senior vice president of internet software and services at Apple, told Fast Company that the public reaction to Maps, which was widely ridiculed for numerous problems at launch, hit the executive team hard.
“We work really hard, so you’re embarrassed. In the case of Maps, what it causes you to do is ask: how important is this? Is this a place where we need to triple down or quadruple down, or did we make that mistake because it’s not that important to us?” he said.
Craig Federighi, SVP of software engineering at Apple, added that the situation was a “huge learning moment for Apple” and made the company realise that building an entire mapping product was far harder than they thought, as Cue explained.
“We completely underestimated the complexity of the product. If you think of Maps, it seems like it’s not that hard," he said.
"All the roads are known. All the restaurants are known. There’s Yelp and Open Table; they have all the addresses. Mail gets delivered; UPS has all the addresses. The mail arrives. FedEx arrives. You know, how hard is this?”
The interview also provided some interesting insights into how the executive team found the change in leadership between Steve Jobs and current CEO Tim Cook. Cue explained that Cook has a much more laid back style than did Jobs.
"I never wanted to disappoint Steve. I never want to disappoint Tim. And I have that with my dad. I was here with [former Apple CEO Michael] Spindler and those guys, and I didn’t have it with them. That’s a quality that makes [Jobs and Cook] unique," he said.
"Now, their approach is very different. Steve was in your face screaming, and Tim is more quiet, more cerebral in his approach. But you have the same feeling. And when you disappoint Tim, even though he isn’t screaming at you, you get the same thing."
Cue also touched on the Apple Watch and said that, while people consider the device to be something of a failure, the company's hugely successful products took time to reach that level.
"People say the Watch isn’t a breakthrough product. Well, neither was the iPhone, by the way. And neither was the iPod. Go look at the numbers; these were not a huge success right away," he said.
New Apple Watch models are expected to be unveiled at the iPhone 7 event next month, and Apple no doubt hopes that the increase in capabilities will boost interest.
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