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What can we learn from the iPhone map snafu?

Apple is the most generous, user-friendly and undoubtedly cool brand in the world these days, right? So how come so many of its fans have been complaining about the latest snafu in its newly released proprietary mapping app? Could it simply be the first obvious sign that the brand that built its clout and ethos on the idea of ‘caring for its people’ no longer does?

For a brand that pays such close attention to every detail (remember when Steve Jobs was ready to delay the introduction of the first iPhone to ensure that it would be made out of glass instead of plastic to enhance quality), de-activating Google maps and replacing it with an app that cannot even show you where you are on a map, seems either careless or motivated by poor business imperatives. The fact of the matter is that in its constant pursuit of ‘friendly competition’ with Google to sustain its dominant position in the market of information, Apple forgot to ‘put consumers first’. When designing a competing platform to Google, was Apple really trying to bring the best service possible to its fan base or trying to shortcut its nemesis?

So what can we learn from this misstep?

1. Your brand doesn’t stop with your product. It really expands to your client interface and to all the services that surround your world, especially in a day and age where lines between businesses are becoming increasingly blurry and you can no longer simply assume that your core product or service is enough to deliver on your brand promise.
2. Sometimes it is worthwhile to avoid the temptation to stretch your brand into adjacencies where you can’t deliver on par with your positioning.
3. Making alliances with another brand may not always be the most immediate path to profit, but it can get you a long way in terms of building consumer loyalty.
4. As much as it is healthy to have a clear competition as a bull’s eye, never underestimate their strength.

So as we look forward, what can we expect from Apple? Will they fix the bug? Will they try hard to re-invent the platform, or will they simply go back to re-instate Google maps? My sense is that the latter would help them restore their brand image and send a clear message that they are doing what’s right for the consumer until they can figure out how to put you on your right path and keep them on the right foot…

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