Waze CEO: Apple Showed Us How to Fail

It’s not often Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) comes out with a product that can repulse consumers, but Apple Maps, time and time again, appears to be the exception.Even more concerning, its struggles may have implications for other map app developers.

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Almost anyone who got an iPhone 5, updated an older iPhone to iOS 6, knows somebody who did, or reads the news, has heard about the disastrous release of Apple Maps. The app replaced Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) map application as the default on iOS devices last year, and it may not have been ready to fill shoes that big.

When it was launched, Apple Maps was rife with errors. Some locations would simply be missing from maps, some images would be distorted in the craziest of ways, some things would be mislabeled, and an occasional Australian would be directed into peril in the middle of nowhere, rather than to their destination.

Apple knew it had made a mistake with Apple Maps — though not a complete mistake. The company has been working to fix it, and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook even apologized for the application, suggesting alternatives, including Google Maps, while Apple improved its navigation tool…

Waze was one of Cook’s suggestions. Waze CEO Noam Bardin said that he and others at his company “assumed Apple’s production wouldn’t be that good,” but they thought consumers would at least be satisfied. He was surprised when they weren’t, and maybe even more surprised when Cook directed users to try out Waze.

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Bardin’s realization was that consumers had a “quality bar” and wouldn’t accept products that didn’t make the grade. The fact that Apple didn’t make the cut was pretty significant as it showed that falling below that “quality bar” was a recipe for failure. According to Bardin, some of the trouble for Apple was its dependence on GPS partners, whose data Apple used to build its maps. Even though Apple Maps may be improving, Bardin described Apple as a “hostage” to the GPS partners, which may make it difficult for Apple Maps to actually stand on its own two feet and compete with Waze or Google Maps.

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