Noam Bardin, CEO of social maps company Waze, has revealed he was surprised by the backlash against Apple's Maps, and has suggested that the app would have been 'amazing' two years ago.
Speaking at All Things D's 'Dive into Mobile' conference on Monday, Bardin said that he had expected Apple Maps to be a "nightmare" for Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app with 44 million users worldwide. "We assumed Apple's product wouldn't be that good, but we thought it would be good enough for consumers," he said.
So when Apple's Maps launched with iOS 6 in September and was met with major criticism, Bardin realised that he had underestimated the consumer reaction to the software. "What surprised us was that it came out and consumers were upset," he said.
Just over a week after iOS 6 and its Maps app was released, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a public apology for the poor quality of the app, and advising iPad, iPhone and iPad owners to download competing map apps while Apple improves its offering. Waze was among the alternative maps apps suggested by Cook in his apology.
"Customers have a quality bar, and that bar is going up rapidly," Bardin said. "Two years ago, Apple's Maps app on iOS 6 would've been an amazing product."
Initially, iOS 6 users were only able to access Google's maps through a web app, but when Google launched a Maps app in the iOS App Store, users flocked to download it. The Google Maps app was downloaded more than 10 million times in 48 hours, and is believed to have sparked a 29 per cent rise in iOS 6 adoption.
"Google is out there creating a standard of quality," Bardin continued. "We feel like we're the only real competition. Rumours say it is $1 billion to $2 billion spent by Google a year."
Google hires large numbers of employees to create its maps, whereas Waze uses volunteers and crowd-sourcing in order to bring maps to its users. Bardin says that Waze does "real time much better" than Google.
"Apple Maps are definitely getting better, but the challenge Apple has is that it's hostage to its vendors – and those vendors are weak these days. TomTom is challenged, whereas Google has an unlimited war chest to better its apps," Bardin said. TomTom provides much of the data for Apple's Maps.
When asked about rumours of a collaboration between Waze and Apple, Bardin refused to comment.