Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized for the iPhone mapping software released last week that has been widely criticized for problems such as steering people in the wrong direction.
“We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better,” Cook said in a letter to customers posted today on the Cupertino, California-based company’s website.
Apple, touting the map features as a key software change in the iPhone 5, built its navigation application amid a growing battle with Google Inc., which had provided its Google Maps program since the iPhone was introduced in 2007. While Apple’s new software introduces features such as turn-by-turn navigation, it has been faulted by users and technology gadget reviewers for getting disoriented when navigating users, for the lack of public transit information and for not having an exhaustive catalog of landmarks for people to search for.
“Maps is an appalling first release,” David Pogue, the technology critic for the New York Times, said in a review this week. “It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever unleashed.”
Cook said that more than 100 million Apple mobile devices are using the new maps application and that the feature will improve as the company collects more data. In the meantime, he said people who are frustrated with the experience could download mapping applications such as Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, Waze and MapQuest from the company’s App Store. He said customers also could use the iPhone’s Internet browser to use Google’s mapping application.
“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” Cook said. “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”
The announcement isn’t the first time that Apple has had to apologize or reverse track during the introduction of a new iPhone. The company had to provide rebates to customers of the first iPhone in 2007 after it cut the price. It also apologized and gave out free cases to customers because of antenna problems for the iPhone 4 released in 2010.
Apple fell less than 1 percent to $678.81 at 9:30 a.m. in New York. The stock had gained 68 percent this year through yesterday.