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Apple's Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi discuss failures and resultant victories

Extending an interview series about the past, present and future of Apple, senior vice presidents Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi talk about the company's initial failures, a harsh media spotlight, and how it shapes what consumers end up with.




Speaking with Fast Company, the executives were immediately questioned about Apple's philosophy in developing maps, and how early public criticism sanded off the rough edges. "The first thing to know about Maps is there's no one developing maps in a significant way except us and Google," said Cue. "The whole thing is extremely dynamic, which makes it an interesting problem."

Apple's Maps endured a great deal of criticism on its way to the current version. While maps in California and major cities were often populated with accurate information, other areas suffered from unreliable directions, and data too old to be of any value to a driver.

Apple's approach to Maps data is not just generated by drivers on the street. Apple looks at app analytics, to determine new features' locations, like a golf course, new restaurants, and new businesses. Once a new location is suspected, the company does further research with satellite imagery or internet searching, with a drive-by being a "worst-case scenario" for verification, according to Cue.

"Another thing about Maps: It's expensive," added Cue. "it's building the architectures, doing the automation, the intelligence, the amount of data we're capturing. It's very, very expensive, and it doesn't have a direct revenue stream."

Federighi emphasized the point that Maps is a huge data integration issue. In regards to Apple's initial failure to deliver a quality project, he said that the company vastly underestimated what the company would need to make a high-quality product.

"You're getting data from a lot of providers, and some of that data is, or should be, changing every day." said Federighi. "Going through that lesson in a very public way gave us all the motivation we needed to say we're going to do this really well."




Cue doesn't believe that there are any more issues generated by Apple's hardware and software development process than there were in the past, saying that the company has data to prove it. The analysis and presentation of issues appears to be more of an issue with the volume of more customers impacted by flaws, according to Cue.

"When we were the Mac company, if we impacted one percent of our customers, it was measured in thousands," said Cue "now if we impact one percent of our customers, it's measured in tens of millions."

Both Federighi and Cue claim in the interview that they would rather have customers that care about the quality of the experiences, rather than apathetic users.




The executives also believe that at its core, Apple is still the same innovative company that it has always been even with the untimely death of CEO and founder Steve Jobs. Current and future successes of both the iOS ecosystem and the macOS rely on developments made for other projects, believe the pair, and technology by its nature is improved upon, far more than it is generated from whole cloth to blow open a new market.

"I think the rest of the world thinks we delivered it every year while Steve was here," said Cue. "People say the Watch isn't a breakthrough product. Well, neither was the iPhone, by the way. And neither was the iPod."

While Apple has attempted social networking venues, it appears that it will be pulling back from that in the future. "We aren't the Everything Company," said Federighi. "We take on a very small number of things that we do very well, and we find that pretty rewarding."

Both men look back at more difficult times at the pre-iPod Apple, and think that the experience shaped their view of Apple going forward in a positive way. "I think it's significant that upper management has lived through periods of austerity and appreciates that this hasn't been a straight ride up," said Federighi, capping the interview. "People who look at Apple's success and think we look at it as 'okay, great, we're done' don't appreciate what's really going on here."