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Friday, 21 September 2012 19:59

Apple loses its direction with iPhone 5 maps


When I first heard that Apple was ditching Google Maps on iPhone for its own in-house maps application I had misgivings. It turns out that I was right.

 Apple is a great company which makes great products. Even more amazing is that this company is the most valuable company in the world, yet it makes just three or four basic product lines.

Unfortunately, Apple, like Microsoft before it, is in danger of falling victim to its own greed.

Microsoft had two basic product lines that were hugely profitable - Windows and Office. Despite the fact that these product families were producing obscene profits, which were steadily growing with the market, Microsoft wasted huge amounts of money trying to get into markets where it didn't belong.

Likewise, Apple is in danger of making the same sort of mistakes. There are areas that Apple is venturing where it should not - probably because it has so much cash it doesn't know what to do with it all.

Two huge areas which spring to mind are Apple's stoushes with Adobe and Google.

When I bought my iPad 2, it was a constant source of irritation to discover that it would not play native Flash files because of issues Apple was having with Adobe.

Now I find, after upgrading my iPhone 4 to IOS 6, that I no longer have a native YouTube app and that my much used and faithfully accurate Google Maps app has been replaced with a vastly inferior and buggy home grown Apple product.

As far as both apps are concerned, I'm not too worried because I can either download them (YouTube) from the App Store or reinstate them from Safari (Google Maps). However, the issue goes beyond the mere inconvenience of being forced to go non-native to get my favourite mobile apps.

With the forced replacement of a mature product in Google Maps with a beta standard proprietary competitor, Apple has openly shown disdain for its user base. The vendor that prides itself on its quality products has used its vendor lock-in status to force its captive users to accept a vastly inferior product. Does that remind anyone of another dominant vendor of years gone by?

 Yes, Apple is locked in a fierce competitive tussle with Google. However, unless it has a product that can compete with YouTube, isn't it doing its loyal users a disservice by not providing them with a native YouTube app? Isn't the idea of customer service to provide your customers with the best user experience possible?

In the 30 years I have been an observer in this industry, I have recognised at least one important truth. No one vendor has the best products across all segments of the market.

As a refugee from Microsoft and an inhabitant of Apple's walled garden for nearly three years, I have appreciated many of the advantages of Cupertino's excellent products. However, lately I have been feeling a steadily growing annoyance at the attempts to herd me down an increasingly narrow proprietary path.

The thinly veiled attempts to lock me into a single vendor solution are creating an internal resistance that is forcing me to once again seek alternatives. I seriously doubt that I'm alone in this regard.


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Stan Beer


Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.



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