We’re not trying to do a lot of stuff… You’ve got to partner with people that are really good at stuff. … We don’t know how to do maps on the back-end, we know how to do the best maps client in the world, but we don’t know how to do the back-end. So we partner with people that know how to do the back-end.
What we want to do is be that consumer’s device and that consumer’s experience wrapped around all this information and things we can deliver to them in a wonderful user interface and a coherent interface.
That approach hasn’t changed; Apple partners with Yahoo for weather, stock and sports data, and with Yelp for restaurant data. But what changed then is that Google wouldn’t provide Apple with new features in mapping like vector tiles and turn-by-turn directions without compromising the user experience, and so Apple had very little choice but to do it on their own.
Their first priority is to provide the best product they can to the customer. If that means partnering with someone that does something really well, do it; if it means doing it yourself, like with iTunes, then do that.
Yahoo email is another example. When Apple released the first iPhone, they partnered with Yahoo to provide free push email. The problem is that Yahoo email sucked, and it didn’t allow Apple to do things they wanted to do, like push contacts and calendar as well—so they went down the path of building their own.
That’s how Apple approaches these kinds of issues. Perhaps Apple could have waited another year to release their own maps application, but that would have been another year without turn-by-turn and without vector tiles, and it would have meant they were another year away from improving the quality of their maps data, which at some point has to happen from user-provided data. It sucks for customers that their maps aren’t as good as what we had while using Google Maps, but that was going to be true whenever they released it. Better to pull the band-aid off now and start the process toward a future where Apple can actually provide new features with maps.