Apple's Map App Befuddles Users; IPhone Sales Zoom

Apple seems to have lost its way with a mapping app that has replaced Google Maps on iOS 6, leading to a flurry of negative, plaintive and downright snarky reviews. But the brouhaha has apparently had no impact on sales as USA Today’s Jefferson Graham reports that “Apple once again dominated shopping malls this weekend with what appears to be record-breaking sales of the new iPhone5.” Just how many sales, however, remains a mystery that should be revealed sometime today. 

The company hasn’t released sales figures beyond the more than two million iPhones booked on the first day the new model was available for pre-orders. “The company also hasn't said how many devices it had in stock, creating a guessing game about sales,” Ian Sherr and Ann Zimmerman report in the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently, however, it was nowhere near enough to meet the demand at retailers such as Best Buy, Radio Shack and Target while “stacks of new iPhones could be seen at Apple stores in major cities shortly after sales began at 8 a.m. [Friday] local time,” Sheer and Zimmerman report. Likewise, a Sprint Nextel spokeswoman tells them that inventory at most of its stores was "seriously constrained or sold out" on Friday while Apple’s two other telecom partners in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T, declined to comment over the weekend.

Some analysts expect sales as high as 10 million through the weekend, according to an Agence France-Presse story on Dawn.com, and demand was equally heavy around the world, as illustrated by a photograph of customers queuing up outside an Apple store in Munich, Germany. Back in the States, one gent among hundreds outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan says he’d “been waiting for eight days” for the accoutrement to his apparently otherwise blissful lifestyle.

Speaking of playing nice with partners, the New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller focuses on the growing rift between Apple and a former best buddy, Google. “It’s the two big kids kicking sand in the sandbox,” BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis says.

Their courtroom (via the Google Android-powered Samsung suit) and marketplace battles have “spilled right onto smartphone screens” with Apple’s removal of Google’s Map and YouTube apps from iOS 6 screens. “Apple’s move strikes at the heart of Google’s core business, search, because about 40% of mobile searches are for local places or things,” Cain Miller reports.

“Local is a huge thing for Google in terms of advertising dollars, and search is very tied to that,” Barry Schwartz, an editor at Search Engine Land, tells her.

But by most -– well, almost all -- accounts, Apple is being left in the dust when it comes to its first foray into longitude and latitude. "They didn't have enough time and they didn't have enough people, and they may not have had the required skill sets to get this right," Dr. Michael Dobson tells ZDNet blogger Stilgherrian. "It is impossible to conceptualize that Apple didn't know this was going to be a train wreck."

The Australian blogger is among the many observers pointing to a Tumblr blog archly named “The Amazing iOS6 Maps” that is collecting the apps’ mis-directions and faulty labeling from around the world. Samples: New Orleans’ Huey P. Long Bridge is re-located to a nearby Home Depot and a suggestion to take a right turn onto some railroad tracks.

“Apple's Competitors Smell Blood in Water,” reads the hed on a PCMag.com piece by Daniel Murphy that credits TechCrunch’s Drew Olanoff with uncovering a comparison of the two services made on Motorola Mobility’s (now owned by Google) Google+ page. It’s “coupled with a new #iLost hashtag that Motorola presumably hopes will take off on the Web's social circles,” Murphy writes.

Of course, some folks have already figured out how to get Google Maps back on the home screen.

The Guardianpoints out that “having its new maps exposed to ridicule isn't the first time Apple has had a PR failure,” and it goes on to list such gaffes as "Antennagate," the buttonless iPod shuffle and MobileMe. “But will the effects be lasting?” it asks. 

Not likely, Peter Krasilovsky, the program director for marketplaces at BIA/Kelsey tells the Times’ Cain Miller. “Apple Maps are apparently not ready for primetime, and that’s a loss. But a long-term loss? No. With all the incredible technology being developed by everybody, consumers are the winner.” 

Well, if you’re going to put it that way, let them kick sand in the sandbox!

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