Apple Axes Richard Williamson After Maps Debacle

Apple has reportedly fired another high-level executive in the wake of the disastrous reception to the Apple Maps app

Apple continues to shake up its management team following the debacle surrounding its disappointing Maps app in iOS 6.

Richard Williamson, who managed the team that developed the application, was fired by Senior Vice President Eddy Cue, according to a 27 November report in Bloomberg.

Public Failure

According to “people familiar with the move,” Williamson’s dismissal is part of a larger effort by Cue to address the problems that arose following the very public failure of the Apple Maps app, which debuted in September. Apple officials hoped that it would replace Google’s Maps app on Apple devices, but the Apple software was found to be faulty and it was quickly criticised by reviewers and users alike.

The push back from the public was so bad that Apple issued a written apology signed by CEO Tim Cook.

scott forstall Apple topThe problems with the mapping app led to the eventual dismissal of Scott Forstall, a top software executive at Apple and, according to some people, a protege of Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs. According to reports in October, Forstall refused to sign onto Apple’s apology, reportedly arguing that Apple could fix the issue without issuing an apology, as the company had done in the past when it had released iPhones with antenna problems.

Williamson is the latest high-profile official linked to the mapping application who was fired over the situation. According to Bloomberg, Cue was part of a management shakeup at Apple following the Maps fiasco, and is making various moves to quickly fix the technical and PR problems that arose after the app was released. Cue reportedly also is working with mapping technology experts outside Apple and with TomTom, a digital maps vendor, to fix problems in the technology that it shares with Apple.

Cue, who is vice president of iTunes, also now oversees Siri and Maps, a move that put all Apple’s online services into one group. The problems with Apple Maps ranged from misplaced landmarks to wrong routes to faulty street locations. Apple had been integrating Google’s Maps technology into its iPhones for the past five years, and officials were hoping their own mapping software could replace Google’s.

In response to the Apple Maps problems, Google officials said they were developing a mapping app that iPhone and iPad users could download onto their mobile devices.

Strong Seller

The iPhone 5, which debuted with iOS 6, has been another strong product for Apple despite the controversial mapping app. In the first three days after its release, Apple sold more than 4 million iPhone 5 devices, according to company officials. In addition, the popularity of the new smartphone vaulted Apple iOS past Google’s Android mobile operating system to the top position in the United States, grabbing 48.1 percent of US smartphone sales to Android’s 46.7 percent, according to a 27 November report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Globally, Android is still in the top spot, according to Kantar.

In issuing Apple’s apology in September, Cook promised that Apple’s Maps app would improve over time.

“At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers,” the apology read. “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.”

According to the Bloomberg report, one source said Cue fired Williamson to make way for new leadership for the mapping group. According to one source, the group is looking first to fix the most obvious problems by such moves as fixing the satellite imagery over the UK and correcting labels for such US landmarks as the Washington Monument.

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Originally published on eWeek.