Apple’s decision to ditch Google Maps for its own mapping software did not have its origins in the company’s spat with the search giant, CEO Tim Cook claims.
Apple Maps replaced Google Maps as the iPhone’s default maps app earlier this year, but was instantly pilloried for featuring a host of inaccuracies and limited layers of information which made it a far inferior product to Google’s offering.
The catcalls got louder when it emerged that Apple’s contract to use Google Maps had another year to run at the time it was dropped.
This prompted claims that Apple had jettisoned Google Maps to spite Google, which owns its chief competitor in the shape of the Android smartphone operating system, and in so doing had put a business rivalry before customers.
Not so, claims Tim Cook. In an interview with Bloomberg, the Apple chief claimed that the move was in fact aimed at improving the customer experience offered by the iPhone.
He said: “The reason we did Maps is we looked at this, and we said, 'What does the customer want? What would be great for the customer?' We wanted to provide the customer turn-by-turn directions.
“We wanted to provide the customer voice integration. We wanted to provide the customer flyover. And so we had a list of things that we thought would be a great customer experience, and we couldn’t do it any other way than to do it ourselves.”
Cook also denied that the rise of Android had any bearing on the decision, claiming that Apple had “set on a course” with developing proprietary mapping software “some years ago” and that at no time had it decided that “strategically it’s important that we not work with company X”.
He explained: “We’ve got a huge plan to make it even better. It will get better and better over time. But it wasn’t a matter that we…decided strategy over customers. We screwed up. That’s the fact."
Arriving with iOS 6, Apple Maps’ many cartographical clangers included listings for long-defunct retail chains and the omission of entire towns.