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Apple Maps Is This Year’s Google+
Not as good as what was already out there.
Lacks essential features.
Why would they release this to the public?
Those are some of the reactions that we’ve seen this week to the launch of Apple Maps.
Or are they the reactions we saw last year when Google launched Google+? They could be either.
Comparing The Launches Of Apple Maps & Google+
Apple Maps’ launch this week is a lot like the Google+ launch in June 2011 — negative initial reactions, bugs and problems with the service, and so forth. Consider:
|Not as good as Google Maps (and other map services).||Not as good as Facebook (and other social networks).|
|Doesn’t have Street View images, public transit, etc.||Doesn’t have business pages, pseudonym support, search, an API, Google Apps integration, etc.|
|Filled with bugs like poor data, incorrect maps, etc.||Filled with bugs like letting private posts be reshared publicly, old Picasa/Blogger photos showing up in Google+ without the user uploading them, etc.|
|Apple is pushing its own product even though it’s not best for users.||Google is promoting its own product (in search results) ahead of what’s better for users.|
Google+ First-Year Growth
Google has stuck by Google+ despite the early mistakes, and its first year was, as I described here a couple months ago, a year of hits and misses. Despite the company’s suspect history of sharing usage stats, Google+ has grown to 100 million active users.
More importantly, over the past year, Google has fixed many of the issues that were obvious when Google+ launched. Brands and businesses can have a presence now. Some users can have pseudonyms (but not all, as many would prefer the policy to allow). Privacy issues have been fixed and don’t crop up as much as they did initially.
You can still argue, and many do, that Google+ pales in comparison to Facebook — and clearly, for many social network users around the world, that’s true. There’s no evidence yet of any mass exodus of users from Facebook to Google+.
But it’s hard to argue that Google+ isn’t moving in the right direction, at least in terms of making improvements since it launched. Maybe not enough improvements, or fast enough improvements, to lure visitors from Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere … but improvements have been made.
Patience, Grasshoppers, We’re Building Something New
Google has repeatedly said that building a social network takes time; it doesn’t happen overnight. While Google’s been slowly working on its Google+ roadmap, users have gone about their business — using the popular Hangouts feature and generally ignoring some of the service’s obvious deficiencies.
Creating a new mapping service also doesn’t happen overnight. Apple, like Google last year, clearly has to focus on fixing the many issues that are already being raised about Apple Maps. The question is whether iOS users will make the most of what Apple Maps offers, and ignore what it doesn’t while waiting for Apple to make Maps better.
Or, will Google step in and try to fill the void with a new Google Maps app … and, if it does, would Apple allow it?
Google hasn’t taken any public potshots at Apple over the quality of Apple Maps — at least none that I’ve seen. That’s smart, because it would be hypocritical to ask for patience when it comes to Google+ and say that it takes time to build out a social network, then turn around and criticize a competitor like Apple for not getting Apple Maps right on day one.
For more on Apple Maps, see our coverage this week on Search Engine Land:
- Critics Rave About iPhone 5 But Many Roast Apple’s Maps
- As Google Maps Disappears In iOS 6, Google Remains Cagey About Releasing Its Own App
- Irish Politician Calls Apple’s New Maps “Dangerously Misleading” After Farm Is Labeled An Airport
- Apple, Yandex Partner In Russia: Maps Deal Now, Full Search Later?