Apple Maps Was Steve Jobs' Idea

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Following the Apple's iOS 6 Maps letdown, some suggested Steve Jobs never would never have released such an inferior product. But "Apple insiders" have told Bloomberg Businessweek's Brad Stone, Adam Satariano, and Peter Burrows that an Apple-made mapping service was all his idea."Jobs himself initiated the mapping project, putting mobile software chief Forstall in charge, and he installed a secret team on the third floor of Building 2 on Apple’s campus to replace Google Maps on the iPhone," they write. "At the time of his death, Jobs had come to loathe Google, which he felt was copying features of the iPhone while withholding a key feature of Google Maps that allows smartphones to dictate turn-by-turn directions aloud." 

Now, we can already hear the Jobs-faithful: sure, Jobs may have wanted Apple to build its own maps, but he would never have released the app in its current, sorry state. But, for reasons we've talked about before, there's a pretty good chance due to resources and just general behind-the-timesness, Apple's maps never would have matched Google's right out of the gate. 

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This, however, may only further prove Jobs' genius. Because of his deep hatred for Google, Jobs also "discussed pulling Google search from the iPhone," two former Apple executives told Stone, Satariano, and Burrow. But he decided against it because: "customers would reject that move." That is, a phone without Google search would not be worth buying. iPhone owners haven't "rejected" Apple Maps on that level. Knowing full well about the maps change, over 100 million people upgraded their iPhone's away from iOS 5 to iOS 6. And while complaints about the defects persist, Apple's still selling iPhone 5's in record breaking numbers

Perhaps that has something to do with the "it gets better" line Apple has used to calm the angry, giving users hope that this is a temporary snag. The company has at least given the impression that it is trying very hard to get better data. Beyond hiring more people to get on the project, rumor has it Apple  has even enlisted retail employees, asking them to report bugs they see. If the same were to happen with search—and TechCrunch's MG Siegler has argued it will—could Apple say Bing would reach their standards with more use? 

In any case, the current situation works for Jobs, even if it doesn't work for you. He still looks like the sainted do-no-wrong figure: He may have thought of Apple Maps, but he didn't implement it. And, from this perspective, he got to ditch Google, while still selling many-many phones. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.