Tim Cook Concedes Apple’s (AAPL) Maps App Needs Work, Recommends Rivals’ Products

Apple (AAPL)’s chief executive Tim Cook has published an open letter on Apple’s website where he apologizes for disappointing customers with the new Maps app in iOS 6, the newest operating system powering the iPhone and iPad, and recommends that users switch to a competitor in the meantime. In the letter, Cook states that he is “extremely sorry for the frustration” and that the company “fell short” of its commitment to deliver “the best experience possible to our customers.”

The rare admission of fallibility from Apple, which includes an apology — Apple has never made a public apology for a product before —  follows the company’s messy launch of its iOS 6 mapping service earlier this month, when it began selling the much-anticipated iPhone 5. Since the mobile software update went live, there have been widespread and growing complaints about the quality of the data offered by the new Maps application, which includes geographical errors, gaps in information, and a lack of transit directions, causing wide backlash among iOS users.

But in unusual move and again, a rare admission of fallibility, that has some people saying, “That would never have happened if Steve Jobs were still alive.” Is Cook’s apology proof, once and for all, that he’s no Steve Jobs?, Apple’s CEO suggests that if customers are dissatisfied with Apple’s new Maps app, they can try third party apps and services.

“While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google (GOOG) or Nokia (NOK) maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app,” Cook wrote.

Cook’s candidness may help Apple, notes The Week, citing The Street’s Chris Ciaccia : “There is no company on Earth that knows how to spin a negative story into good positive vibes better than Apple,” and that’s exactly what Cook did, says Ciaccia. A humble statement like this “can change people’s perceptions of a company,” and reverse the feeling that Apple compromised its quality control just so it could ditch Google Maps. “An apology from Cook on this issue will go a long way in smoothing over some of the negative response from customers. Heck, it may even help sell more iPhones.”

Here is Cook’s letter in full:

To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

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