Apple's CEO makes Maps app apology

Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology to customers for the failings of its new Maps app was a departure from the firm's usual tight-lipped communications.

Apple CEO Tim Cook's apology to customers for the failings of its new Maps app was a departure from the firm's usual tight-lipped communications.

In a letter posted on Apple's website, Cook said the company was “extremely sorry for the frustration” the service caused iPhone customers. He then recommended that users download competitors' apps such as Bing or MapQuest, or access Google or Nokia maps through their websites.

PR Play rating:

1. Clueless
2. Ill-advised
3. On the right track
4. Savvy
5. Ingenious
Apple replaced Google Maps with its own app when it released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6, in September. Many customers were caught off-guard by the change when they installed the software update, and complaints quickly rushed in about Apple Maps' inaccuracies, mislabeled landmarks, and lack of public transit directions.

It wasn't the first time an Apple product triggered criticism, but under former CEO Steve Jobs' leadership, admissions of failure by the company were rare. Two years ago, when some users complained that the iPhone 4's reception weakened when holding the device a certain way, Jobs responded to one disgruntled customer in an email saying to “avoid gripping it” that way or to use a phone case. He later offered affected customers free cases at a press conference, but no apology.

Despite this, Jobs was lauded for his communications skills, drawing attention for his compelling presentations at product launches and direct engagement with the press. In a way, the firm's buttoned-up communications strategy added to the mystique of its products, resulting in big headlines and huge queues outside stores on product release days.  

Following Jobs' death, many wondered how the company would communicate. Cook's letter is a good indicator. He showed a more human side of the tech behemoth, admitting a shortcoming and even pointing to the superiority of some competitors' services. By humbling itself and acknowledging it fell short of consumers' high expectations, Apple might have lost a little of the magic surrounding its image, but it also made the important statement that it cares about its customers and their feedback.

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