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Report: Apple fires the manager in charge of its Maps app

In response to one of its biggest product flubs in years, Apple has reportedly fired the person who oversaw its Maps application for iOS. Richard Williamson, who was senior director for iOS platform services, has been dismissed from his job by SVP of Internet Services Eddy Cue, according to Bloomberg.

Cue took over responsibility for Maps last month when Apple announced SVP of iOS Software Scott Forstall would be leaving the company. Cue has been known as Apple’s “fixer” and has been charged with getting the Maps program into working shape after a disastrous debut with the company’s iOS 6 software in September. The app immediately drew complaints from users for poor mapping data and bad directions.

Williamson’s replacement has not been named, according to Bloomberg’s sources. But Cue has been talking with mapping experts at TomTom for ideas on how to improve Maps’ accuracy. From Bloomberg’s report:

A team at Apple has been working to fix the mapping mistakes, focusing first on some of the most glaring problems, one person said. The satellite imagery over the U.K. has been improved and labels for popular U.S. landmarks such as the Washington Monument have been corrected.

This isn’t the first head that has rolled at Apple over Maps. Forstall had long been a personality that didn’t mix well with his fellow executives, but the final straw in his ouster was said to be when he refused to apologize to Apple customers over the state in which the Maps app launched in September.

CEO Tim Cook ended up signing his name to the apology instead.

6 Responses to “Report: Apple fires the manager in charge of its Maps app”

  1. As the politicians say, elections have consequences and so do (perceived) high profile failures. Nevertheless, I gotta say the Apple Maps thing has been hyper-stated and its not right that people have lost their jobs. For me, Maps in IOS 5 was not at all comparable to Navigation on an Android device which includes turn-by-turn directions. So the improvement in IOS 6 is substantial. On a recent trip (interstate travel combined with in-city in Denver, CO), we used Maps on an IOS 6 on an iPhone and Navigation on an Android device. Neither was perfect in terms of most efficient routing, but they both got us where we were going. The clearest advantage that Google maintains is Street View…IOS 6 satellite views, however accurate (or not) just don’t compare.

    • Ernest Braccio

      Employees are paid for the work they do, if they don’t do it right, they can’t stay. There must be someone responsible for Maps, and it is correct that highly paid directors take their responsibility. I’m sure mr Williamson has got a lot of money to survive a few weeks without a job…

      • You’re right, employees are paid and if after some established and agreed upon procedure they are determined to be under performing then they can’t stay. However, the Maps brouhaha, from the outside, seems as much a failure of public relations, marketing, and even the beta testing process all of which are ultimately the responsibility of someone much higher than Mr. Williamson and/or Mr. Forstall. Perhaps for an outsider there are too many missing dots to correctly connect those that we can see. Absent that insight, my sympathy has to be with a dismissed employee.

  2. Nicholas Paredes

    Sheesh. Now Apple has a reason to buy Nokia — Nokia Maps. Stop digging, the only two companies with reliable data are Google and Nokia.

    Combined with the Chevy announcement, the ability to drive the car may be a feature in ten years. Navteq/Nokia Maps has the data.