Google Maps: Did Apple Cave to Consumer Pressure?

On Wednesday night Google's new iOS 6 map application was released for the iPhone. It has become the most downloaded free application in the Apple app store.

The release of Google Maps for iOS 6 marks the end of a saga that began on Sept. 19 when Apple expunged Google maps from its new operating system. Apple users were redirected to Apple Maps, a tool immediately deemed inferior to Google's application. Apple Maps was flaunted at the company's keynote speech in June but its directions were flawed -- it marked nurseries as airports and entire cities as hospitals. Australian police said they were advising residents not to use the app after it directed drivers to a desert instead of a small town. The drivers were stranded in the desert for nearly 24 hours without food or water before being rescued by police.

Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an apology just 9 days after the release of iOS, 6 stating that Apple Maps fell short of Apple's commitment to delivering the best experience possible.

"While we're improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app," he wrote.

In October Scott Forstall, Apple's software chief who was responsible for Apple Maps, left the company. His departure marked one of Apple's biggest staffing shake ups since 1997.

Downloads of iOS 6 stalled after the introduction of Apple Maps and some say iPhone 5 sales suffered as well. Whether or not the new Google Maps app will boost sales of Apple devices remains to be seen.

Shares of Apple have been under extreme pressure over the past few weeks. The stock (AAPL) plunged to a 6-month low in mid-November after reaching a record high in September. On Friday morning Apple shares were trading down 3.5%. In recent days analysts have gone from discussing when the stock would pass $1,000 to when it will cross below $500.

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