Did Apple actually win 'Mapgate'?

Tim Cook apologized for replacing Google Maps with a disastrous Apple-built iPhone app. And that concession, says Farhad Manjoo at Pando Daily, was simply brilliant

Tim Cook
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple has been in hot water with iPhone customers for several days, thanks to a new mobile operating system — iOS 6 — that boots Google Maps in favor of Apple Maps, which even the most loyal Apple fans are deriding as a clearly inferior product. On Friday, in a surprisingly un-Apple-like move, CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized for the "frustration this has caused our customers," and swore that the company was doing "everything [it could] to make Maps better." Cook even went so far as to suggest that iPhone owners use third-party map apps until Apple sorts through the mess. Cook's was a "succinct, sincere, and brilliant note," says Farjhad Manjoo at Pando Daily. And the upshot is obvious: "Mapgate is over. Apple won."

Manjoo continues:

It was a beautiful thing. [Cook] offered a clear assessment of the problem ("we fell short"), and took full responsibility for it. He put forward a heartfelt apology ("we are extremely sorry"), and gave customers an easy, pretty-good short-term solution to the problem — they could get one of many rival maps apps from the App Store. Finally, not only did he explain how Apple will handle the situation — Maps would improve as more people use it — but he staked Apple's brand on the promise that it would get better: "We know that you expect [the best] from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard."

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There was no better way for Apple to have handled this royal screw-up.

Did Apple really win the day?

Well, Cook's apology was a "bold move," agrees Drew Olanoff at TechCrunch, and at least shows that under Cook, Apple isn't afraid to admit mistakes. That alone should reassure longtime fans and investors that the company knows what it's doing. "Oh, the power of contrition!" jokes Dan Lyons at his blog. "By lying" — Apple said Maps was ready for the public when it clearly wasn't — "but then apologizing for lying, Apple now has become stronger than before." In Cook's world, "it's all about perception. Or persuasion."

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