back to article Exec responsible for Apple iOS map fiasco walks the plank

Apple's lamentable mapping application has claimed another victim with the apparent firing of Rich Williamson, who headed up the fiasco project in Cupertino. Sources within Apple told Bloomberg that Williamson had been given his marching papers by senior vice president Eddy Cue, who was recently appointed to sort out the mess …


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  1. Brett Weaver
    Thumb Up

    Wow - Holding folks responsible?

    This news is like a breath of fresh air.

    So many IT projects fail without anyone being held responsible. This news should mean that the folks are more focussed on getting it right, not just getting it out.

    Competent people are not afraid to make and admit to mistakes.

    Incompetent people deliver crap products which are an accumulation of many mistakes because they are too dishonest to acknowledge those mistakes. They should be held accountable to prevent repeats.

    Wouldn't it be great if this happened in a lot of other places?

    1. Oninoshiko
      Thumb Down

      Re: Wow - Holding folks responsible?

      Depends, was he the one who signed off on it without ample time for proper development, or just the person "put in charge" of the project so someone could be blamed when the inevitable failure of the idiotic management "plan" occurred?

      1. asdf

        Re: Wow - Holding folks responsible?

        Guessing by the fact your post now has seven upvotes and the original only one I am guessing most of us who have been industry in awhile choose option b. First rule of the C-Suite when in doubt blame and fire a middle manager.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow - Holding folks responsible?

        Given how many years Google and Nokia have been working on maps, how long it has taken for Bing maps to become acceptable, and what the Apple leadtime seems to have been, this seems something of a no-brainer.

        Jobs may have been in many ways something of a bottom aperture, but he seems to have left a very large hole that is proving hard to fill.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow - Holding folks responsible?

        "so someone could be blamed when the inevitable failure of the idiotic management "plan" occurred?"

        Definately! It's the senior management who have not got the slightest clue!

    2. LarsG


      Shoulda gone to Tom Tom...........

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        @LarsG Re: Shoulda

        They DID go to TomTom, but the problem was that they didn't JUST go to TomTom, and (in typical Apple style) they figured they knew better than people who've been doing this for a very long time...

        TomTom provided mapping and routing data to Apple. The failure was Apple's in processing, filtering and presenting that data. They also failed when integrating TomTom's database with that of OpenStreetMap and with the various satellite image providers.

        This isn't an easy task (look up "geoid" and follow it from there -- basically, there's no such thing as a "correct" lat/lon coordinate, because the Earth is not only not round, but it's not smooth either), and it's one that professional mapping providers have struggled with for decades.

        Making one dataset coherent is difficult, but merging it with another of dubious accuracy is a titanic struggle (OSM is relatively accurate, in that roads and features connect propely; but is not absolutely very accurate in terms of placing specific features in their correct places).

    3. Miaau

      Re: Wow - Holding folks responsible?

      Yeah. Can backfire. I was given responsibility for a project once upon a time.

      Turns out the project was not viable, the engineers had stuffed up the hardware and some of the planning looked decidedly dodgy. It failed. I predicted it would, I knew it would. Still, I shoulder some of the blame, even though I can prove the main failure was hardware engineering. Eyes of management and other staff and all that.

      Find the right person, not the nearest scapegoat.

  2. J. R. Hartley


    And that's a wrap for the crap map app flap chap.

    1. Bob Vistakin

      Re: Optional


      1. Paul_Murphy

        Re: Optional

        I think you mean 'clap clap' the slap to the chap about the mishap.


  3. hitmouse

    Most likely his managers pushed for something he could never deliver, and so it was scapegoat time.

    Meanwhile Tim Cook insists they are doing "everything", except the twin technically-feasible and customer-satisfying solutions of allowing alternate map-handlers or reversion to a previous version of iOS.

  4. Bob Vistakin

    Apples slow car crash is fascinating

    A couple of turkeys - neither the iPhone5 or the iPad mini sold anything like they predicted - and a whole bunch of self inflicted WTF's, such as the maps comedy and their newspaper Samsung "you're apologising wrong" antics make you wonder what's coming next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

      A friend of mine who works in a rather large department store chain somewhere in the metropolis told me this morning that his store shifted a few short of 1700 iPad minis in the first 2 days. - doesn't sound like a turkey to me.

      He may be pulling one, but as he works in the stockroom i doubt it.

      1. vic 4

        Re: 1700 iPad minis

        Thats a lot more than the apple store on black friday mentioned elsewhere.

    2. Steve Todd

      Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

      These would be turkeys in the sense of "we can't make them fast enough to meet demand and iPhone sales are back above Android in the US" that other manufacturers would kill for?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

      Turkeys? That must be why iPhone sales in the US beat ALL ANDROID VENDORS COMBINED for the quarter ending Oct. 31.

      Granted, that's just in the US, Apple market share is much lower in other countries where carriers don't subsidize almost everyone like they do here. It'll likely follow the pattern of last year where Apple was on top for a couple quarters after the 4S was released, then dropped a lot as people started waiting for the 5 around the time the OneX and GS3 were released spiking Android sales.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

        >Turkeys? That must be why iPhone sales in the US beat ALL ANDROID VENDORS COMBINED for the quarter ending Oct. 31.

        I imagine the car crash he is refering to is: which has a rather different stats to yours - eg that Samsung alone sold more than 4x as many Android handsets as Apple iPhones in 3Q12.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

          So even by your own stats (worldwide rather than US only, which is the big difference between the two) up 41% year on year? Samsung? Up 22.5% in the same period before you ask. Still not a turkey.

        2. Silverburn

          Re: Apples slow car crash is fascinating

          @ AC - Handsets != Tablets.

  5. JeffyPooh

    "Apple's aura of perfection..."

    What? I've had an iPhone since Day 2 of the 3GS generation, now up to 4S, and I've noticed it-must-be hundreds of bugs in the Apple iOS and Apple's own apps. They NEVER gave me the impression of perfection. Even now I could easily fill out a half dozen bug reports... there an on-line form?

    1. Andrew Moore

      Re: "Apple's aura of perfection..."

      Agreed- My iPod 4th generation has run like a shot donkey since I've installed IOS 6. It sucks (and not just the maps) and there's no way back to IOS 5.

      1. Bush_rat

        Re: "Apple's aura of perfection..."

        i still cant hide the weather app icon....

    2. Micha Roon

      Re: "Apple's aura of perfection..."

      Apple software was better than the others for a long time but has started to deteriorate lately. My MacBook Pro (2011) started staying asleep when closing the lid. I have been a Mac user for 10 years now and have always boasted about the ability of my Mac to go to sleep and wake up seamlessly. Not anymore. I am contemplating a switch to Linux :-)

  6. JaitcH

    What did Apple get for it's money?

    Apple bought Siri, and it was fairly near release state, even though it had a few lumps in it, is passed muster.

    In the map fiasco, Apple bought a number of companies and since then they have been incubating their Crappy Mappy app for years and it is still junk, according to iPhans.

    What due diligence did Apple do when they bought these corporate entities?

    It also has to make you wonder what Quality Assurance Apple employs when it has had a series of problems from Antennagate through the Crappy Mappy app. Does no one in senior management even check out the latest product? It wouldn't take much. How many 'enhancements' were there, including the failed Version 5.

    Even if they only put their home address in, it would reveal a lot!

    And what's with these ancient black and white satellite images? I bought sat pix of my home and business in DakLak Province, VietNam and said I wanted latest copies. The sat company gave me an ETA of the month they would be taking the pictures.

    I did the place up, made sure all the vehicles were parked nicely. There were several passes - some were from extreme angles but the best shot was just when the liquid propane man decided to top our fuel tank, something he does once a year!

    Really, IMO, the release of Crappy Mappy app lies right at the top of the executive chain and it wouldn't have taken much effort to test things. Of course, Apple painted itself in to a corner by comments about Google, which only highlights it's immaturity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What did Apple get for it's money?

      Branding will kick Quality's butt every day of the week!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What did Apple get for it's money?

        For those weak of mind "Branding will kick Quality's butt every day of the week!"

        Fixed it.

  7. Dana W

    I'm just glad the maps work well in my home state/US. I use it all the time with no problems. The fix will come. I'm just glad they are chopping off heads for this.

    If Stevo was still alive they would be boiled alive.

    1. LarsG

      Confusius he say

      You're lucky, here in the UK I don't exist, the nearest town is now called the name of a town 40 miles away and parts of Wales are now in England. If I try to navigate to my address it sends me to a pond 11 miles away in a village whose name does not match the village it sends me to.

      Confused? You will be after next weeks episode of........

      1. hitmouse

        Re: Confusius he say

        Are you in Portmeirion? Sounds like the plot of The Prisoner.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Apple has never been perfect, not by any stretch!

    They had a string of failures before the return of Jobs and very nearly went under.

    It was the iPod & then the iPhone which saved Apple from the boot-notes of computer history.

    Now we're seeing what Jobs would not have allowed. An iPad mini, which fragments their market positioning.

    An iPhone 5 of questionable quality when compared to previous generations. Anyone noted that the heft has gone out of the device? - and with it the perception of the quality of the device?

    Without the presence of Jobs, with his legendary attention to detail and "that's not good enough, start again" attitude, Apple will lose it's edge - the signs are already here.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    Who's going to be held responsible for the slip in the new iMac delivery. They're pulling out all the stops to give the impression that the machines will be on the shelves this year, but my take is that it's just going to be a token presence. It may well be february before they get any volumes to marked.

    Someone (or some more than one) better start going the job ads.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Apple, please also sack the following people...

    1. Whoever was responsible for the stupid leather effect crap in the iPad calendar.

    2. Whoever wrote the keyboard scanning code in the iPad - it still misses letters if you type fast.

    3. Whoever wrote the contacts app.

    4. Whoever knocked up the execrable iPad clock app. It's horrible.

    5. Those who decided having multiple styles of 0-9 keypads was a good idea (unlock pin screen vs phone keypad vs restrictions pin keypad vs etc...)

    6. And finally: the ones who decided that Find My Phone/IPad just had to look like that. What were you thinking?

    1. Toby 10

      Re: Dear Apple, please also sack the following people...

      I think you'll find that 1. and 6. have been taken care of last month.

  11. tony

    Turn by Turn

    Got to say adding turn-by-turn (albeit not perfect but when is anything) makes up for the lack of detail the maps has in some places and I've not found any errors more significant than what I found with the old maps.

  12. Scarborough Dave

    Maps fiasco is a good adage to the umpteen Ps

    Piss poor planning promotes piss poor performance, piss poor performance promotes pain.

    At work we got this to 18 Ps - but can't remember it!

    1. The Boojum

      Re: Maps fiasco is a good adage to the umpteen Ps

      Have never got to 18 but here's my offer:

      Proper professional prescient prior preparation prevents particularly pathetic painful piss poor performance.

  13. Big_Ted

    OK El Reg time for you to apply for a patent....

    "Apple, as is traditional in such cases, has yet to comment. ® "

    It could soon be a classic now Steve Jobs has gone and Apple struggles to reallign itself internally

  14. Hedley Lamarr

    Apple was somewhat forced into this position by Google. Google wanted access to the user data and to push ads via the Google Maps app on iOS and Apple refused. Google then retaliated by withholding features, lack of co-operation etc so Apple had to develop it's own Maps app. They are also reliant on TomTom and other 3rd parties for data.

    I'd rather use a reliable Google Maps with ads than the current Apple offering but there are two sides to the story.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean...

      Google wanted something back in exchange for letting a competitor use one of their flagship programs!

      The swine! Nobody else would behave like that. Boo to Goo!

  15. Phil W

    Pointless development anyway

    It seems to me Apple's map/navigation app was a pointless waste of development time and money anyway.

    There are a number of quite mature, reliable and high quality navigation apps for iDevices already such as TomTom and Sygic and probably others.

    If Apple had been so keen to include a mapping/navigation product with their devices it would of been easier, faster and cheaper to arrange a licensing deal with either TomTom or Sygic to either bundle their existing app or mod the front end experience of it to make it more Appley.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radical and sweeping changes are needed by Apple. They produce the OS and the core apps, and all of them are complete wank!

    The only thing they don't do is produce the hardware, which is the only appealing thing to Apple purchasers, even though far superior hardware and OS exists. Proof that people do buy shit on a stick.

    Oh so last decade Apple, tisk tisk tisk..

  17. GrahamS

    "Shoulda gone to Tom Tom"

    A couple of posters have said that Apple should have just gone to TomTom.

    But if you look at the options page in Apple Maps it clearly says "Data from TomTom, others"

    And if you tap that you get a long list of the map sources they used with TomTom at the top, as well as other excellent sources like Ordnance Survey, Royal Mail, DigitalGlobe, USGS, NASA, and OpenStreetMap.

    Apple were not lacking in good sources of map data - but somehow they produced a bastard child that was less than the sum of its parts.

    1. Phil W
      Thumb Down

      Re: "Shoulda gone to Tom Tom"

      I beleive the point was that they should of gone to one good source for mapping data, and more importantly the navigation engine.

      Rather than buying maps from all over the place and mashing together, them sticking their own navigation engine on top and hoping for the best.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been raising these issues for years now, and was always shot down in flames because Apple could do no wrong! Sad people just waking up to what was obvious all along.

    My experience is that academics (which we all know are good at one thing only with ZERO common sense) "execs" (who we all know are those responsible for poorly thought out and implemented decisions) and "fashionistas" (LAUGHS LOUDLY) who are so dumb as to be ridiculous are Apples core purchasers.

    Those people who shouldn't have any say about anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ...we'll point out that the multi billion $ failed to listen to a troll with a chip on his shoulder.

      I'm sure they will listen to your far better design solutions.

      I own no Apple gear, so can't put me in the fanbouy pigeon hole and as for:


      Did you? Did you really laugh loudly? If so, maybe you should seek medical help, not just for your anger issue, but your inability to constrain yourself to inner thought.

  19. Lockwood

    "Exec responsible for Apple iOS map fiasco walks the plank... Uses iOS Maps to find plank. Ends up in cushy office instead."


  20. big_D Silver badge

    He didn't walk the plank...

    intentionally, Eddy gave him an iPhone with a destination punched into Maps

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