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China Mapping Mistakes May Change After Apple Fires iOS 6 Maps Manager

The widely ridiculed iOS 6 Maps application has plagued Apple Inc. ever since its debut in September.   Today, Apple has reportedly fired Richard Williamson, the manager who oversaw Apple’s Maps team, in an effort to regain the trust of users who were frustrated with the troubled mapping software.

Google Maps drove previous versions of Apple’s Maps application, but the growing competition between Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS eventually prompted the iPhone maker to part ways with Google Maps in its iOS 6 version.  Apple then looked to other third parties to supply its own in-house app with data.  Digital map provider TomTom confirmed its alliance with Apple in June.  Since then, Apple Maps has been critiqued for its unreliable geographical information and lack of necessary data.

However, Apple created a special version of Maps built specifically for users in China.  Users reported that the Apple program worked better than Google Maps.  Instead of using TomTom in China, Apple Maps gathered its data from AutoNavi—a Chinese mapping firm that is one of only 11 companies with a license to bypass China’s restrictions on mappings in the country.

But the biggest problem lies in AutoNavi’s incompatibility with TomTom, as Apple is incapable of integrating information from both mapping sources.   As a result, data from both companies conflict with one another.  Users in China are only able to see their country when they view satellite imagery, with the rest of the world appearing completely in black.  Users are also finding themselves directed to TomTom’s problematic maps instead of to AutoNavi.

Apple’s Senior VP Eric Cue now plans to appoint new leadership and work with TomTom to quickly rectify any errors in data to turn the Maps app around.   But it remains to be seen how Apple Maps will resolve its issues with TomTom and AutoNavi in China.  With China becoming Apple’s quickest growing market, it is in their best interest to get this issue resolved now in its new direction.

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