I’m all for delivering early versions. Historically, Apple has been pretty good at this.
That said, the Maps app early release in iOS6 puzzles me. It’s supposed to be a replacement for Google’s Maps. But… well, it is not. Not yet, anyway. Actually it’s completely broken for me:
- Not enough data. It’s to the point where I can’t even find what I need.
- The search is broken. Searches send me to weird places, different cities or can’t find results.
- There’s no information about the public transportation.
Awesome brokenness screenshots here. I’m sure they’re going to do their best fix these, but since Maps is one of the most important features for me, I would probably consider a phone with Google Maps until they do.
From my understanding of Steve Jobs desire for perfection, this software would’ve never been released like this during his reign.
It’s like getting your new BMW without wheel and with one of the tires being from a monster truck. Sure you’ll get quite a bit of feedback on what to improve, but it’s pretty obvious what’s wrong and people are obviously not going to be keen on driving it. The best part is that you also get this amazing improvements on your current BMW as well. Without any warning like “This will completely fuck up your car and render your most important feature useless.” or anything of the sort.
I think releasing this early is useful when there’s innovation. You want fast iterations and early feedback from the users as soon as you have the minimum viable product (MVP). Because of the fans expectations, in Apple’s case, the MVP is a “great product”. The only way for Apple to win from replacing the Maps app is if they raise the bar, which they didn’t do.
This can’t be a good sign for the future of the company, as its biggest success has been when they’ve innovated relentlessly. Now that competition, has caught up to them with the phones, they can’t afford to take steps backwards.