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Apple's New Maps Become Major Embarrassment


Apple's new mapping software for the iPhone has become an embarrassment for the company. It misplaced major landmarks and erased entire towns. So, today, Apple's CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology, saying the company was doing everything it could to make maps better.

NPR's Steve Henn reports.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: The last time there was a big brouhaha in the tech press about a problem with an Apple product, Steve Jobs cut short his family vacation in Hawaii, flew back to Cupertino, California and called a press conference. When reporters walked into the room they were greeted with this video.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (singing) Let's all sing this song. It goes like this - if you don't want an iPhone 4, don't buy it. If you bought one and you don't like it, bring it back.

HENN: The problem with the iPhone 4 was if you held it the wrong way, the antenna stopped working and it would drop your call. But the most interesting thing about that press conference was watching Steve Jobs use the force of his personality to beat surly reporters back into line. Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs.

MERRIE SPAETH: Tim Cook has got to be his own person, he's got to have his own style.

HENN: Merrie Spaeth is an expert in crisis communications.

SPAETH: He would be a complete flop if he tried to emulate in any way the persona that Steve Jobs had.

HENN: And Spaeth says Cook's apology for the Apple Maps debacle, which he posted on Apple's website, wasn't bad.

SPAETH: I think the apology strikes the right note. I'd give it good marks for that. The issue now is how do they fix it.

HENN: To be fair, when Apple had its antennae issues, the fix was relatively simple - you could slap on a case. Michael Gartenberg at Gartner Research says fixing Maps may take some more time.

MICHAEL GARTENBERG: Software inherently gets better over time. No software is ever shipped complete. No software ever ships bug free.

HENN: And because the amount of information in a global mapping program is so immense, even if Apple's programmers are 99.9 percent perfect, they could still end up with tens of thousands of mistakes to clean up. Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.