In a single succinct, sincere, and brilliant note, Tim Cook has put Apple’s Maps fiasco to bed. It was a beautiful thing. He offered a clear assessment of the problem (“we fell short”), and took full responsibility for it. He put forward a heartfelt apology (“we are extremely sorry”), and gave customers an easy, pretty-good short-term solution to the problem—they could get one of many rival maps apps from the App Store. Finally, not only did he explain how Apple will handle the situation—Maps would improve as more people use it—but he staked Apple’s brand on the promise that it would get better: “We know that you expect [the best] from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.”
There was no better way for Apple to have handled this royal screw-up. I was not expecting it. I’d grown used to another, more aloof Apple, the sort of company that apologizes as a last resort, and even then makes you feel bad for it. In other words, I’d grown used to Steve Jobs’ Apple. This note illustrates that Tim Cook’s Apple is a more clear-eyed, pragmatic, and—not that it’s important, but it’s not nothing—a nicer place.