Something Went Wrong in Siri’s and Apple Maps Development: One Last Time

I thought about John Gruber’s Apple Maps tweet and the various replies. Why is Apple Maps all over the map for so many users around the world? I think it all goes back to Apple Maps very troubled 2012 launch.

Dr. Mike Dobson’s Exploring Local blog pointed out the reasons for the “2012 disaster“:

  • “C-grade” suppliers.
  • Failure to recognize the difficulty integrating information from disparate data sources.
  • General incompetence in rationalizing data sources.

The 2012 Apple Maps launch chart looks like this:

Apple Map Diagram 1

I think that the Apple Maps organization problems pointed out by Dobson still exist today. In Japan the Apple Maps chart looks like this:Apple Map Diagram 2

The story for Japan is that even though Apple Maps added an “A-grade” transit data supplier, the other lower grade data suppliers and poor Apple Maps normalization process drags everything down to the lowest common level. The result is a classic map conundrum: Apple Maps Japan shows you lots of stuff but tells you nothing. A lot is also missing or incorrect.

Based on reader comments I think that Apple Maps charts for America and China might look like this.

Apple Map Diagram 3Apple Map Diagram 4

China seems to be better because there are far fewer suppliers for Apple Maps to juggle. This fits with Dobson’s 2012 observation that when faced with multiple suppliers Apple Maps drops all the balls.

That is still true today. It’s a key area where Apple Maps has made surprisingly little progress. I don’t think Apple Maps can truly move forward in meaningful new directions until this problem is fixed for good, and for all.