iOS 6 will be good for Apple... eventually

Apple’s iOS 6 is now out, and if you've read iMore's detailed iOS 6 review you've already seen people complaining about the new Maps app. Whether it be incorrect data or simply a slew of features that are missing compared to the old, Google-powered Maps app.

iMore has written plenty about how iOS 6 is more about Apple than new user features, which do include deeper Facebook integration, panoramic photos and shared photo streaming. But most industry pundits agree that the big changes Apple made signify a move away from Google and towards even more of a complete hardware, software and services ecosystem.

At least that’s the idea. But the consumer outcry due to a bug-ridden maps app has people wondering if Apple has taken the idea of removing Google’s hooks to such an extreme that it compromises the user experience. Has Apple lost one of its core values?

We’ve seen Apple make mistakes before. MobileMe was a disaster at first, and it eventually improved. Then we all witnessed the Antennagate fiasco, which was yet another bad news story that resulted in a temporary assault of negative headlines. Of course it all blew over, and none of it had any real, lasting effect on Apple.

How will this play out? A few customers are bound to be upset. But I don’t think it will last. Before too long I expect Google will have an approved maps app in the App Store, and customers will get back the choice they want. Some people suggest that Apple will delay the approval of Google Maps. I don’t see it happening. Apple knows this is a longer term battle, and they want to kill the negative press fast. If you’re Apple, the answer is to give people choice, and then to improve your own product such that, in time, people don’t bother installing your competitor’s app anymore.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Sure, Apple was a bit premature in launching its own mapping app. But I doubt we’ll be talking about this little snafu in a couple of months - especially considering Google may have already submitted an iOS mapping app to the App Store. But if Apple can iron out the wrinkles, people will stick with the easier approach of using the built-in app. Then, after a few years, Apple will have significant control over local search data.

Google makes pretty much all their profits from Adwords today. And those profits come primarily from desktop and laptop use - not mobile. Yet most industry observers agree that mobile advertising is eventually going to eclipse ad revenue from desktop users. It will be more location-aware and intelligent.

It is in Apple’s best interests (and those of shareholders) for Apple to control as much user data as possible in order to monetize it through advertising. From that perspective, Google is a dangerous competitor with far more experience. As an Adwords advertiser, I can attest to the quality, depth and sophistication of Google’s advertising system.

Google already has complete control over the ability to advertise within Android, so why should Apple help them out (and sacrifice their own potential profitability) by continuing to hand them such important data, coming from iOS users? The answer is obvious. They shouldn’t.

I’m both an Apple and a Google shareholder. I’m not worried that desktop use of Google’s advertising platform will go away anytime soon. But what if it’s not Google who figures out how to truly monetize mobile? What if it ends up being Apple, Amazon, or Facebook? Then Google revenue flattens out or perhaps even shrinks, as more advertising dollars move to mobile.

The stakes are high in this game. Apple may have been early, risking some consumer upset. But they’re doing what is inevitably best for profitability in a highly competitive market.

Chris Umiastowski

Chris was a sell side financial analyst covering the tech sector for over 10 years. He left the industry to enjoy a change in lifestyle as an entrepreneur, consultant, and technology writer.

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There are 24 comments. Add yours.

Dev from tipb says:

You answered your own question. If Apple is placing the promise future monetization of user data over their users' real experience today, they have indeed lost a core value.

D V says:

Actually, I think that Apple will always try to be a product company and make the best product they can and make the bulk of their profits out of that. However, this doesn't mean that they can't use a mobile ad platform to bring anonymous ads to users based on an opt in model, particularly for "free" apps. Take a look at the wealth of options to customize your privacy within iOS 6 and you get the feel that currently at least, Apple is more likely to protect it's user's privacy than a company whose very strategy for revenue is based on tracking your every little movement online and in the real world to sell ever more targeted ads.

I think that the best solution is to do what Chris recommends: let users use Google's walled garden of apps within the walled garden that is Apple and iOS. Eventually, Apple consumers may decide Apple's solution is superior and not bother with Google. However, even they keep using Google services, as long as they buy iPhones and make Apple money, what's the problem?

iSRS says:

I still use gmail, too many things go there. But I have moved more of my email back to my .mac email. Today, I actually deleted my 'Google' folder - Gmail, Drive, Chrome, and Google apps - from my iPhone. I still have my Gmail in the default Mail app, but I was never using the stand alone app, as, or the others. For my needs, the defaults, including Maps, work fine. Tomorrow, I'll finally have Siri, and won't need the Google app. Will I try this Google Maps app? Sure. But the Apple Maps is the default, and I will help make it better by using it. Like you said, yeah, Apple may eventually have a decent ad income, but that isn't their core business model. I will still be viewed by Apple as a customer first, where as with google, we are customers in so much as they need sum as we are also the product.

justiceandmercy1 says:

Clearly, taking a step back is not a good thing in the case of maps. And one would wonder if Apple would push something out that was not ready for public consumption, unless it is not THAT FREAKING BIG A DEAL. I mean, Google maps are at the top and all, but they're not perfect, and Schmidt and Co. got up Steve Jobs craw in a huge way. It was time to cut the cord with Google. If you must, add the Google maps web app to your home screen. I rarely used Google maps anyway, and my phone is always by my side. I say GOOD RIDDANCE.

Yea, I'm a fanboy. Been on Apple since 1990. So sue me.

cardfan says:

Without voice turn by turn, i never had much use for google maps on iOS. Navigon is what I use and is superior to either google or apple's turn by turn solutions.

I'm guessing this will blow over as Apple works through it. I'll continue to use Navigon and hope Apple improves its Maps. If i need google maps for some strange reason, there's their app or mobile page.

9thWonder says:

same here. i rarely used maps. i used my garmin still and on iphone i'll probably use waz till apple sorts out the maps app. Honestly they need a separate navigation app in my opinion or stop hiding all the buttons and menus.

striatic says:

One thing that people might be missing here is that MAPS ARE HARD.

Maps aren't the kind of thing you can just throw money at, and usage information isn't a magic bullet.

Bear in mind that Apple has been prepping their maps for at least 2 years leading up to iOS 6, and it may take them 3 or more YEARS to catch up with all the work Google has been doing on maps over the past decade.

If "eventually" is 3 iPhone releases away from now, will that cut it?

kjjb0204 says:

And let the apologists begin.....

traberry14 says:

Wow…. Your really missing the point. I don’t care about what’s going on with Google and Apple. I’m the consumer and when I purchased my phone I expected it to be working as advertised. We give Apple too many excuses for being stubborn and arrogant. It’s like the antenna issue. Their response was to change the way you hold your phone. Now they are saying “It will get better”. No other company could possibly get away with that. Because we are iSheep we continue to sit back and not hold them responsible for their mistakes.

9thWonder says:

i'm not isheep. but i for the most part agree with your first sentence. i don't care what happens to apple. i'm the consumer. the ONLY thing i care about is me.

Carioca32 says:

Exactly.

We have been geting used to taking s##t from Apple, and becoming less and less critic about it. Siri is still beta after one full year, maps is now much worse than in iOS 5 - i.e my street and adjacent steets have their traffic flow wrong - and iOS 6 has been crashing like hell on my iPhone 4.

There has been a shift in how we perceive Apple, and to compensate for it we spend a lot of time apologizing on its behalf, oh Siri will bet better, just wait and see, oh maps will get better, just wait and see, oh NFC will be on board when its worthwhile, just wait and see, oh everybody will be on board with Passbook, just wait and see.

spanishcop says:

I think Apple should have made it more clear. I consider this much like SIRI. Everyone talked about how SIRI is in Beta stage and Apple spoke about how much more there was yet to come. I would have to say Apple Maps isn't any different. I agree the product was rushed out, and I'm surprised that Apple didn't hold off any longer. But at the same time, Apple advised that Maps was coming in IOS 6 and people would have been complaining if the Map app would have been held back. I"m sure it would also change the way all the other apps integrated with Maps. Apple is just getting started..... Look at SIRI and how far it has come now. Passbook....Should I be bitching that all the stores I shop at are not listed ??? Apple is just breaking the Ice. MAPS will get better and corrected, SIRI will get better and more useful and Passbook will also grow with new business jumping on. With the COPY & PASTE.... I remember people complaining about Apple for not having the option to Copy and Paste..... Apple took critizim and hung in there looking for a better and different way to do it.... and when Copy&Paste was released, everyone loved it and I still like how it works. What I'm getting at is.... Copy Paste option was not released for a while and people bitched..... Maps and SIRI though NOT perfect was released and people bitched.... It is really hard to make EVERYONE happy..... Apple is doing the right thing now. Consider any new APP as a BETA from Apple. Podcasts had its flaws and they made improvements on it. Also remember that for some Apps... it takes users to iron out the problems. How many of you have Beta tested video games and when they are released there are still problems with it and updates are released. It is just like anything else..... with time fruit will ripe and we will all enjoy it. THERE IS A REASON WHY SO MANY COMPANIES WANT TO BE LIKE APPLE.... Apple has the money and resources, let the fruit ripe and be patient.... in the end.... I'm sure people will enjoy Apple's Maps. On the other hand..... I agree that Apple should not hold off on Google's Map app from being approved... as others have commented here.... People should have options.... each user has their own preferences. I will wait patiently and Apple will make it right. Options = Happier customers with iphone/ipad/ipods.

Dev from tipb says:

Just like with Copy & Paste, and with Siri, if this was the first Maps application on the iPhone, people would shrug, and say "it's ok for a first try, and Apple will get better." But it is not. People have had a good (if vanilla) Maps experience for FIVE YEARS on the iPhone. Now, in the 6th iteration, Apple changes tacks so severely that the reliability of maps and directions is questionable, and search is marginally serviceable? The next time you are late to an appointment because your directions where wrong, or you cannot find something, are you going to say "well, Apple will be better next time?" Maybe, if you are forgiving. But more likely there will be one more "damn, Apple let me down" tucked away in your brain that wasn't there before. Enough of those, and Apple becomes just another player.

But right now, yes, many companies WANT TO BE LIKE APPLE. Do you know why they are not? Because most of them are focused more on the rewards that come from doing kick-ass work than doing the actual kick-ass work itself. With short-sighted decisions (or maybe arrogant overconfidence in their own abilities) like foisting an incomplete Maps product on users just to get rid of Google, Apple seems to have joined that crowd.

And that makes me sad.

spanishcop says:

On the 6th iteration as you call..... Apple came out with their own maps version (apple owned app for the 1st time) So there for it should be considered as their first Map App and people should have considered it to have issues (beta).... I think Apple should allow an open choice to the user to have the option in settings to choose which Application for Maps the owner wishes to use... but that did not happen. There are other Apps in the app store that people can use. I for example don't care for the Podcasts application from Apple, I prefer to use Downcast.... it's my preference......... All I was trying to say in my previous comment is that Apple will improve the Maps App and it will be better, you just have to be patient. It may feel half assed, but with user input, it will get better. In the mean time... there are others to choose from and soon hopefully Google Maps app will be in the app store just like youtube app.... If you can't wait that long or can't find another app for maps.... you can use google maps mobile version which is accessible directly from their site on your iphone by typing.... mobile.google.com (just make this a shortcut on one of your pages of the springboard on your iphone/ipad).

Dev from tipb says:

Nope, sorry. The is the sixth time Apple has released an application called "Maps" providing this functionality. It is worse than the 5th version. Even if you somehow want to excuse it by calling it "beta" -- in what universe is it acceptable to go from a stable, useful production product *back* to beta? It is inexcusable for any company, let alone one that purports to focus on user experience like Apple.

As a software developer, I know all too well how painful it is to rewrite code, and how painful it is to switch data sources. I can sympathize with how difficult the challenge is on the scale Apple is attempting.

But as a consumer, so what? I buy my phone, and use my maps services, to a) help me find something in my general vicinity and b) help me get there. Period. If Apple goes backwards in those functions, they deserve every bit of bad press they are getting.

Dev from tipb says:

Side note from your comment -- the abomination that is Podcasts actually has me more worried than Maps. As a dev, I can at least empathize with the challenges Apple faced making Maps. The customer in me may not like the new Maps, but the techie in me can understand the inclination to cut them some slack.

But Podcasts took a simple experience that Apple 100% controlled -- obtaining and playing podcasts, made it slower, buggier, took away some features (playlists), and made basic UX (e.g. scrubbing) controls harder to access. For no reason I can fathom.

Maps is a poor effort for Apple, but marginally understandable given the challenges. Podcasts makes me fear that Apple is losing its app software mojo.

spanishcop says:

I did forget to mention something very important from my point of view as well..... I never used google maps on my IOS device. I always used MAPQUEST which provided audible turn by turn information. Mapquest never let me down. I always hated using the google maps. Google didn't update the app till a long time later to make it with turn by turn to which was audible. So if Apple maps happens to be inaccurate in Ohio where I reside, then I'll continue using mapquest until it becomes better.

Ip.fanboy says:

I used the maps app here in Florida for the very first time today. Was using it while driving to my friends house (that for some reason I always get lost going there) and it really really worked very well. Tho I really think they need to improve the image quality, sometimes u might see it a lil blurry. I give it 8 out of 10, only for my experience.

640p says:

Android is already destroying IOS. With a 65% versus 25% marketshare and moves like this is just going to help Google beat them even more. Maps is horrible, Passport is horrible on IOS. Maps and Wallet are amazing on Android,

JPiLLa says:

Unless you are on Verizon with a Galaxy Nexus. NFC is great and all, if you can find a place to use it....

Rob White says:

"Google makes pretty much all their profits from Adwords today. And those profits come primarily from desktop and laptop use - not mobile"

Interesting statement considering the popular opinion of the tech blogs had been that Google can't survive without iOS. This is really the 1st hint that Apple's users openly are seeing the company's plans to data mine them. Much like Google has been doing, Apple is much different are they?

Keldog says:

Why couldn't Apple just leave Google Maps on the phone along with Apple Maps, then users could decide which app they wanted to use. Chances are, most users would eventually migrate to Apple Maps, then Google Maps could have been phased out in an update.

My personal experience, I used Apple Maps yesterday and the turn-by-turn directions worked great. I was out of town for work, and needed to find my next appointment.

Kaknab says:

I think it is a good change. And people should remember when Google maps started to show in market. Those maps in the beginning were with errors and missing of information as Apple maps are now. It took so many years to see Google maps with all that good stuff. Stuff that users filled in and Google used as their own.
We should be doing the same things we did before and help Apple to improve maps for our benefit.
All of us as users can fill the important information and gradually see improvements in Apple maps. Without despair we can get something better for all.
I like the functionality and the looks. Also Siri integration is great. All together in the future will be awesome!. Don't you think?