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iOS6, Apple Maps, and the Biggest Data Quality Story This Year : The Practitioner's Guide to Data Quality Improvement

iOS6, Apple Maps, and the Biggest Data Quality Story This Year

September 28, 2012 by
Filed under: Data Governance, Data Quality 

As anticipated, as part of Apple’s recent release of iOS6, the incumbent Google Maps application was replaced by Apple’s homegrown version. Excitement has quickly degenerated into disappointment (at best) and anger (at worst) over the flaws in Apple’s version. And as of this morning, a quick scan at Google News reported almost 2000 articles reflecting Apple’s mea culpa culminating with a personal message from CEO Tim Cook stating:

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

It looks like quite a firestorm over what is basically a data quality issue…

I was a devoted fan of the Google Maps application, and after taking a quick look at the Apple app this morning, I was surprised to find that I lived practically next door to the “Hampshire-Langley Shopping Center” (actually it is about 6 miles away), that Our Lady of Good Counsel High School was up the street (it moved from Wheaton to Olney in 2006), the Torah School is next to the 7-11 (actually, it is miles away as well), and in fact many of my familiar businesses just don’t show up at all.

The outrage over the flaws in app is quite telling about our dependence on quality information, especially in the context of location. I have written many pieces about the value of location, and the fact that the iPhone Maps app is basically unusable highlights the degree to which poor data quality has significant impacts:

  • Wasted time and rework in finding alternatives to the app to get the right locations and directions
  • Significant brand risk and degeneration
  • Warranty costs to scramble to fix the app

Here is a big one: when iOS 6 was released, Apple’s stock price hovered around $700 per share; on September 27, the stock closed near $675 per share. According to my back of the envelope calculation, this corresponds to a loss in Apple’s market capitalization of approximately $23 billion. Is this all attributable to the Maps debacle? Probably not all of it, but I believe some of the value of the company evaporated as a result of this source of poor data quality.


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