Is This Proof Apple Can't Function Without Google?

Say what you will about the human failings of the late Steve Jobs -- and there were plenty, judging by Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of the man -- the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) he returned to in 1997 rarely suffered the indignity of a public failure.

Tim Cook hasn't been as lucky. Lately, the iPhone's distinct Maps app has become for Apple what Windows Vista was to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) : a moderately functional product with just enough jarring flaws to cause embarrassment.

According to data compiled by crowdsourcing company Crowdflower and reported in the Los Angeles Times, Apple's Maps suffers a major error (i.e., sending users in the wrong direction) 3.4% of the time, versus 1.1% for Google's (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Maps and 1.4% for Bing Maps. In the U.K., Apple gets it wrong more than 30% of the time versus less than 5% for Google and Bing, Crowdflower found.

Are we witnessing the first concrete evidence that Apple needs Google much more than it wants to admit? Tim Beyers of Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Supernova has the answer in the following video. Please watch and then leave a comment to let us know what you think.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2013, at 6:42 PM, dave2004 wrote:

    with all the cash, apple should buy Ebay

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2013, at 8:06 PM, Gr0w wrote:

    To a give a short answer to the question posed in the headline "No."

    To compare 98.9% accuracy with 96.6% accuracy and describe one as "three times more likely to make an error" is disingenuous. What was the margin of error of this survey? Is it so small that a difference of this size is even statistically significant? This is not the quality of analysis on which I would want to be basing an investment decision.

    I can see that you were simply regurgitating the headline from a six-week old LA Times article. But what might be acceptable from them as a bit of holiday-season knock-about humour, is clearly less than the standards I expect of a late-Jamuary investment article from The Fool.

    Yes - the latest version of Apple's map application is using a new source of data. In effect, it is a "Beta" version of their new map, being delivered through a new upgraded version of their mapping-application, with lots of new features.

    The error rate in the map data compares favourably to other first-release versions of online maps - far less error-prone for example than the first release of Google Maps in 2005.

    Google had the good sense, eight years ago, to label the first version of their maps as a "Beta" release for its first six months. Apple should probably have done the same with the first release of theirs. Instead they were charmed by the new features in their own software to such an extent that they overlooked the quality of the map data.

    After more than a year, their voice recognition software - Siri - still has a "Beta" label on it and people still make allowances for it as it slowly expands the range of languages and accents it can handle.

    Apple should have found a way to do the same with maps. So Apple made a marketing and product labelling mistake when they failed to make the maturity of the mapping product clear at launch. That mistake doesn't tell us much about anything else. Even if that had been a great insight in October, it is no longer timely.

    I had to double check the date on this article. Is this (four-month-old news based on a 6 week old survey) the best insight that you can provide on the day that Apple reports its quarterly earnings?

    As I said already - I expect more of TMF than this.

    Grow

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