What happened to Apple Maps?

Apple Maps is a web mapping service created by Apple. The service was first launched in September 2012 on Apple devices where it replaced the default service Google Maps. The platform drew near-instant criticism from users and pundits alike, with The Guardian reporting in October of the same year that Apple Maps was the company’s $30 billion mistake. This sentiment was echoed by The New York Times reporter David Pogue, who noted that “Maps is an appalling first release. It may be the most embarrassing, least usable piece of software Apple has ever released.

Google Maps partnership

In 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first-ever iPhone to a captive audience.

But he was also joined on stage by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who announced that all Apple smartphones would feature Google Maps as the default mapping application.

The partnership was profitable for both companies initially, but it became more complicated when Google’s Android operating system started to gain traction.

Android competed with iOS, presenting a quandary since Google Maps effectively supported the competition.

Google then asked Apple for access to iPhone user data to improve Google Maps, a request that did not sit well with Apple as a more conservative company that respected user privacy.

In response, Google withheld several critical updates to Google Maps for iOS, giving the Android version an instant competitive advantage.

With the relationship between the two companies now acrimonious, Apple ended its partnership with Google despite having a year left to run on the contract.

Destined for failure

A resentful and bitter Steve Jobs then rushed the development of Apple Maps which meant it was always destined to fail.

Once the app was released, there were countless usability issues, including the inaccurate placement of famous landmarks, poor or inconsistent navigation, and lackluster search results. 

As if that wasn’t enough, some locations were misspelled, given the wrong name, or omitted from the map entirely.

Railway stations were either missing or shown as parks, and parks were sometimes labeled as airports.

In Dubin, Northern Ireland, a public farm called “Airfield” was displayed in the app as an airport that authorities believed would be misleading for a pilot needing to make an emergency landing.

Navigational errors were perhaps the most concerning, however.

In one instance, the app instructed drivers in Alaska to turn across an active runway at Fairbanks International Airport.

In another, tourists in Australia were directed into the middle of a remote desert after requesting directions to Mildura – a city with a population of around 33,000 people.

In the wake of the app’s poor performance and similarly poor public image, Apple fired senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall after he refused to make a public apology.

Richard Williamson, the overseer of the company’s mapping team, followed suit soon after.

Incoming CEO Tim Cook then suggested users switch to Bing Maps instead.


The Apple Maps user experience has improved in recent years, with the company spending billions of dollars to make the app more of the Apple brand.

Apple no longer relies on third-party mapping data from providers such as TomTom, which means the maps it provides are more accurate.

The company collects data from users and a fleet of vehicles and drones roaming the streets of America.

Users praise the app for its 3D graphics and virtual flyover functionality.

Apple Maps is now integrated with the privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo in a not-so-subtle reference to the company’s ill-fated relationship with Google.

While the company has cornered around 12% of the mobile map app market, it is still a distant second to Google Maps with approximately 80%.

Key takeaways:

  • Apple Maps is a web mapping service created by Apple. The service was first launched in September 2012 on Apple devices, where it replaced the default service Google Maps.
  • Apple Maps was borne out of a relationship with Google that turned sour. Enraged and resentful, Steve Jobs rushed the development and release of the app, which meant usability issues plagued it. Many of these were deleterious to human health.
  • Apple invested billions into the app with the appointment of Tim Cook, removing its dependence on third-party data providers, among other things. However, it is debatable whether Apple Maps can claw back any significant market share from Google Maps.

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Related to Apple’s business model

Apple Business Model

Apple has a business model that is divided into products and services. Apple generated over $394 billion in revenues in 2022, of which $205.5 came from iPhone sales, $40 billion came from Mac sales, over $41 billion came from accessories and wearables (AirPods, Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, HomePod, iPod touch, and accessories), $29.3 billion came from iPad sales, and $78.13 billion came from services.

How Much is Apple Worth?

In 2022, Apple is worth two and a half trillion dollars. Apple generated over $205 billion from iPhone sales in 2022, which accounted for over 52% of its net sales—followed by services revenues at over $78 billion, wearables and accessories at over $41 billion, Mac sales at $40 billion, and iPad sales at over $29 billion.

Apple Business Growth

iPhone and Services sales represented the main revenue drivers in 2022. Within the service revenues, the fastest growing sub-segment was the advertising business Apple built on top of the App Store, followed by the Mac, Accessories & Wearables, and the iPad.

Apple value proposition

Apple is a tech giant, and as such, it encompasses a set of value propositions that make Apple’s brand recognized among consumers. The three fundamental value propositions of Apple’s brand leverage the “Think Different” motto; reliable tech devices for mass markets; and starting in 2019, Apple also emphasized more privacy to differentiate itself from other tech giants.

Apple’s mission and vision

Apple’s mission is “to bring the best user experience to its customers through innovative hardware, software, and services.” And in a manifesto dated 2009, Tim Cook set the vision as “We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products, and that’s not changing.”

Apple evolution


Apple business strategy

When looking at the Apple Business Model, it is easy to assume that it is solely a product company, which sells devices that are beautifully crafted. However, there would have been no success for the Mac without its OS operating system. There would not have been iPod success without iTunes. And no success for iPhones without the Apple Store. What’s next for Apple’s success?

Apple distribution strategy

Stores are critical for customer experience, enabling the service business and branding at scale. In 2022, most of Apple’s sales (62%) came from indirect channels (comprising third-party cellular networks, wholesalers/retailers, and resellers). These channels are critical for sales amplification, scale, and subsidies (to enable the iPhone to be purchased by many people). At the same time, the direct channel represented 38% of the total revenues.

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