Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

How Apple Can Easily Fix the iPhone 5's Biggest Complaint

The new Apple Inc. Maps app icon is seen on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012.
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

By far, the biggest complaint I've heard about the new iPhone iOS6 operating system is the decision to replace Google Maps with a proprietary Apple map system.

The complaints were loudly trumpeted on the front page of "The Wall Street Journal." They mostly revolve around the lack of detail on the maps. Some streets are missing. Many of the points of interest — restaurants, bars, and shops that you could find easily on Google Maps — are gone. (Read more: Apple's Messy Map Problem)

With all its resources, I'm sure Apple can build out its database of locations over time. But the key phrase in that sentence is "over time." (Slideshow: Apple Fanatics Line Up Around the Globe)

People buying the new iPhone don't want to wait for Apple to scout locations, code them into the maps, and introduce a new version of iOS6.

If only there were some small start-up that had already done this work. Some company that had a ready-made database of built-in locations. A company that was still small enough and still private, so that Apple could buy it without going through a messy take-private process.

Yelp has the locations but it already went public. Google owns Zagat and is buying Frommer's. Fodor's is owned by Random House.

Is anyone left?

iPhone Map Flap

I think the best bet would be for Apple to buy foursquare [sic], the mobile check-in service started by my close friend Dennis Crowley. It's got everything Apple needs for its maps and more. With foursquare in maps, you could not only get directions, but tips on what to do when you reach your destination and deals from merchants. Your friends could learn where you are heading and when you expect to arrive. It would be a revolution in checking-in and a revolution in maps.

Apple certainly has the cash to buy foursquare. I'm sure the owners of foursquare would even be amenable to a cash and equity deal, since many of the foursquare investors, founders and employees are fans of Apple, both as a company and as a product.

(Read more: Why Apple’s Still the Cheapest Stock on the Market)

(Full disclosure: I'm friends with a lot of the people involved with foursquare, including the founders. If Apple bought them, my friends would be fabulously wealthy and I'd occasionally expect them to spring for drinks at our local watering hole. Although, come to think of it, post-Apple acquisition they may be too fancy to have drinks down at Tom & Jerry's. Oh, well.)

- by senior editor John Carney

How Other Smart-Phone Stocks Stand:



Research in Motion


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