My wife, Jess, had a meeting with a client in downtown Greenville last week. Since she had never visited their office, she fired up her iPhone, opened up the Maps app, and drove off with full confidence that her iPhone would lead her where she needed to go. Unfortunately, the app led her to the downtown jail, subsequently requiring her to call the client – apologize for potentially being late – then ask for directions to their office from the jail. Needless to say, she was frustrated.
If you haven’t heard, Apple has gotten a lot of flack for this new app during the last couple of weeks: see this blog, this article and this comic. Now, I totally understand starting from scratch on an endeavor as big as maps is a huge deal – it will take time to catch up with Google. The real issue is, not that Apple needs more time to develop an app equal to its competitors, it’s the fact that people can’t get where they need to go when they want to go there.
When Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) released his letter to the public last week, I was surprised and really, really impressed. It’s a hard thing to come out and say that you screwed up. It’s especially difficult when you are the most valuable company in the world; a company that prides itself on impeccable user experience, and you come out and admit that you screwed up. Apple even recommended competitors’ options, which is pretty incredible.
Apologizing goes a long way. It takes a heck of a lot of confidence in the future of your product to give competitors a leg up in the middle of your own public relations debacle, but it also make you more human. Sometimes Apple makes mistakes, too.
Since the letter came out, my wife has continued to use Apple Maps (with Google’s web app close by) and I have reported mistakes to Apple when I find them. Both of us understanding that nobody’s perfect.