Apple's failure could lead to Bing's gain

After the iPhone 5's monumental failure with the shift from Google Maps, the real winner could be Microsoft.

Maybe some day Apple will learn not to make business decisions based on petulance. The decision to drop Google Maps has turned the company into a laughing stock not seen since the Spindler days, an awful sign just days before the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs's passing.

There were minor signs that Steve had truly left the building, but it was the iPhone 5 that really turned into a fiasco. First, every single detail leaked ahead of time. This was unheard of before. Older iPhones were the subject of much speculation and a lot of people guessed wrong. But with the iPhone 5, they got everything right, showing Apple had lost control of the secret.

Now there's this public apology from CEO Tim Cook, something Jobs never would have done. Jobs would have handled it like the iCloud mess – a public dressing down and firing of management at Apple HQ with no admission of error to the public.

As John Cox notes here at Network World, Apple has been at work on its own maps since 2009, but building a decent map database takes time. This isn't a small country, after all, and there's a lot to cover. Apple let its squabbles with Google cloud this fact and pushed out its own Maps product before it was baked. Again, this would not have happened under Jobs.

It's gotten so bad for Apple that Cook recommends several maps alternatives, first among them Microsoft's Bing, along with MapQuest and Waze as well as the browser-based version of Google Maps and Nokia maps.

Bing Maps really is a sleeper hit for Microsoft. They had the resources to get it up and running quickly and thoroughly, and it has all of the features of Google Maps, like driving, walking, and mass-transit directions, but it also has traffic alerts and location-based business information such as nearby gas stations.

I hope Microsoft is nimble enough to capitalize on this to their advantage, and sport enough not to twist the knife too much. Though just a little wouldn't be out of line…Apple does deserve it.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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