Tim Cook’s Letter Regarding Apple’s Maps in iOS 6

Tim Cook, Apple COO, in january 2009, after Ma...

Tim Cook, Apple COO, in january 2009, after Macworld Expo keynote. Picture by Valery Marchive (LeMagIT) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Recently, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook released a general letter to the public, stating his and the company’s views on the new Maps app released in iOS 6.

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.”

Read the full letter here: http://www.apple.com/letter-from-tim-cook-on-maps/

Apple has been heavily criticized for choosing to replace Google Maps with its own Map software. Many users have found the new maps to be much less accurate, and many have found that they often have incorrect information.

Apple has also received criticism for this open letter from CEO Time Cook. Some people think that it is not Apple’s typical style to apologize to its customers when it has knowingly made the case. However, this is actually not true, and many times in the past, Apple has released statements regarding issues that its Customers had brought up. (For example, here are letters from the late Steve Jobs regarding: his health, why there’s no Flash on the iPhone, and on why iTunes uses DRM locked music).

However, it’s interesting to look at the difference in style of Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Both are very different characters, and can be expected to take on different styles.

Steve Jobs has a distinct style in which he thoughtfully discusses an idea, and carefully delineates it to the reader. As shown in his letters “Thoughts on Flash” and “Thoughts on Music“, Jobs was passionate about the issues that he wrote about. He would begin with a bit of introduction and context, which helped explain his purpose for writing the letter. In “Thoughts on Music”, he used a casual tone and wrote, “Let’s examine the current situation and how we got here, then look at three possible alternatives for the future”. By doing so, he welcomed the general reader to a sort of discussion, and not just a lecture. In “Thoughts on Flash”, Jobs carefully divided his argument out into six points, and then presented each in an easy-to-understand way. By using this style, Steve Jobs maintained the friendly image that Apple is known for, but also acknowledging his responsibilities to the company and to his customers as CEO. The only exception to this was in the “Letter from Apple CEO Steve Jobs” from 5 January 2009. In that letter, in which he discussed concerns over his health and well-being, he was much more terse in his phrasing, and didn’t mention any more than he needed to. This is likely because he was discussing a closer personal matter, which was understandably difficult to share publicly with the world.

Tim Cook’s letter, however, used a much different style than what was typical of Steve Jobs. Even though he was also discussing an issue regarding Apple products, his letter was still shorter, and more direct, similar to Jobs’ letter regarding his health. Rather than opening with a small description of context, Cook immediately states the problem at hand in his opening paragraph – “we are doing everything we can to make Maps better”. It isn’t until after he acknowledges the problem, that he goes on to explain the conditions that led up to the replacement of Google Maps with Apple’s proprietary software. Had Jobs written the letter, he would have likely swapped the second and first paragraphs, which would match the style that Jobs is known for.  In addition to this, Cook doesn’t spend as much time describing the problem as Jobs had done for DRM music and for Flash. Cook merely says that “The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get”, which only indirectly addresses the problem of the inaccuracies in Apple Maps. Conversely, in “Thoughts on Music”, Jobs explained why the decision was made to DRM-lock the iTunes Store’s music because “[The “big four” music companies] were extremely cautious and required Apple to protect their music from being illegally copied”. While it’s possible that Cook simply didn’t enough data and evidence to include, it’s more likely that is was a deliberate style choice made on his part.

But is it really that important?

Both Jobs and Cook responded to the issues that had been brought before them. However, the style in which Cook responded is very different than how Jobs would have. The Apple community has grown used to Apple operating under Steve Jobs. After more than a decade as CEO, Steve Jobs was an extremely integral part of Apple and its community. This recently released letter, and difference in style is just one way in which Apple, as a whole, has changed after Tim Cook took charge. Only time will tell if this change, and these differences will greatly affect the company in the long run.




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