I am not a big fan of reporting on when someone has been fired. I have been in that position before but no one reported about it (until just now actually, so there).
The reason a firing at Apple is getting attention is because it was of the person who was ultimately held responsible for the Great Apple Maps Mishap of 2012. You remember it right? Apple users around the world were directed to slam their cars into brick walls and famous landmarks were reduced to wavy images that led some iPhone 5 users to think they were having flashbacks. OK, well it wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t good either.
Apple Inc. has fired the manager responsible for its troubled mapping software, seeking to win back the trust of users disappointed after the program debuted in September, according to people familiar with the move.
Richard Williamson, who oversaw the mapping team, was pushed out by Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information wasn’t yet public. Cue, who took over last month as part of a management shakeup, is seeking advice from outside mapping-technology experts and prodding digital maps provider TomTom NV (TOM2) to fix landmark and navigation data it shares with Apple.
So what does this move tell us? Well, first Apple is not going to stand for what many viewed as a monumental screw-up. Many didn’t see it that way as well but we know how Apple fanboys can be. Consider, however, that Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, felt it necessary to apologize to Apple customers because of the troubles. Enough said.
Also, we see that Apple has bigger problems when it needs to lean on TomTom to get their end of the bargain more buttoned up. They traded in one third party frienemy (Google) for an inferior ‘partner’ and it seems to have backfired a bit.
Mapping isn’t easy. I say that because it only seems to make sense. With all of the changes that occur and all of the information that people want to see on a mobile map there is no easy way to create and manage that process. Google Maps has been coming together over many years with the help of users who offer the suggestions that help make the product better. I suspect that Apple will not be taking that route since they seem to produce things based on their knowledge of their version of the world and then Apple users generally accept the result with little complaint and an open checkbook.
I have no doubt that Apple will figure this out but the questions remain as to just how long it will take and will their offering ever compare with Google’s especially after stumbling out of the gate so badly?
I am talking from a position of pure conjecture and opinion here but it seems that Apple didn’t truly understand what good mapping for today’s mobile Internet requires. If that is the case then either Apple is so full of itself that it feels it can’t fail at anything just because they are who they are OR they really just completely dropped the ball and went to market with a poor product. Either way it’s not what you would expect from Apple is it?
What say you?