Apple CEO Cook: 'We're putting all our energy' into Maps improvements

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook offered a harsh assessment of the company's efforts to design its own Maps platform for iOS devices, admitting "We screwed up" but promising significant improvements are in the pipeline.

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Launched in September in conjunction with Apple's iOS 6, the homegrown Apple Maps replaced Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps, which had been a fixture of the iOS ecosystem since the first iPhone hit retail in mid-2007. "The reason we did Maps is we looked at this, and we said, 'What does the customer want? What would be great for the customer?'" Cook said in a wide-ranging interview with BusinessWeek published Thursday. "We wanted to provide the customer turn-by-turn directions. We wanted to provide the customer voice integration. We wanted to provide the customer flyover. And so we had a list of things that we thought would be a great customer experience, and we couldn't do it any other way than to do it ourselves… And the truth is it didn't live up to our expectations. We screwed up."

Cook said Apple is "putting all of our energy into making [Maps] right. And we have already had several software updates. We've got a huge plan to make it even better. It will get better and better over time." Cook did not divulge specifics on that plan, nor did he reveal when consumers can expect the overhauled Apple Maps to become commercially available.

Cook also addressed the exits of Scott Forstall, Apple's senior vice president of iOS software, and John Browett, its head of retail. The company announced Forstall's departure in late October: He will leave its ranks early next year, and is serving as an advisor to Cook in the interim. Insiders say Forstall was forced out of Apple due to troubles with Maps and the Siri voice assistant, products that he oversaw. Sources add that tensions came to a head after Forestall refused to sign Cook's apology letter after the Maps fiasco.

Asked how the executive changes make Apple better, Cook said "The key in the change that you're referencing is my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation--and I didn't just start believing that. I've always believed that… These moves take collaboration to a whole different level. We already were--to use an industry phrase that I don't like--best of breed. But it takes us to a whole new level. So that's what it's all about. I know there has been a lot written on that, but that's really what's behind it."

Despite consumer frustration over services like Apple Maps and Siri, investment bank Canaccord forecasts Apple will sell 45 million iPhones during the current quarter. Apple sold 26.9 million iPhones in the third quarter, a 58 percent increase from the year-ago period; that sales figure includes only nine days of iPhone 5 activity, however--the smartphone did not hit retail until Sept. 21.

For more:
- read this BusinessWeek article

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