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Early iOS 6 Surveys Say Newer Isn’t Better

The day the new Apple iPhone5 launched, also came a new version of the iOS operating system. With every new release, Apple’s iOS traditionally sports new features and consequently a measurable rise in customer satisfaction. It appears that pattern may have just come to an end.  Early surveys show the majority is not as happy with iOS 6 as it was with its processor.

Survey Says No

According to an On Device recent survey1, users are reporting a 7.65 for iOS 6, compared to a 7.75 for iOS 5. Only a modest drop in the numbers to be sure, but when one considers 200+ newly available features in 6, what we might be seeing is dissatisfaction with iOS 6 mapping changes.

New Mapping to Blame?

Previously, Apple shipped its iOS with a built-in mapping app from online giant Google.  Google is a seasoned creator of mapping products, having invested heavily in the technology over the years. In fact, Google was the shipping provider of such information to both Apple products and its own Android operating system for smart devices.

But as Google supplied Android with complete turn-by-turn directions, Apple’s product did not benefit from such capabilities. And, according to Google’s own mapping information terms of service, it could not be added later, either. Faced with that unfortunate reality, and with only a year left in its OS mapping component supply agreement with Google, Apple decided it best to release its own mapping solution.

While Apple’s new maps have some interesting features, such as 3D flyovers of major cities and turn-by-turn navigation, its reception has been rather chilly. For users in Europe, the dataset used (TomTom was reportedly a major contributor) was weak in comparison to the Google product. This has lead to some negative press about the product, and could be impacting user’s overall satisfaction ratings. Apple seems to confirm this, as they released a statement to AllThingsD2:

“Customers around the world are upgrading to iOS 6 with over 200 new features including Apple Maps, our first map service. We are excited to offer this service with innovative new features like Flyover, turn-by-turn navigation, and Siri integration. We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.”

First Dip In the Ratings

The rating of 7.65 is the first dip in ratings for a release of iOS, with the results usually indicating an increase in satisfaction for each release. In fact, iOS 5 had a rather large leap over its predecessor, with iOS 4 ranking at 6.93. Perhaps it was hoped that the large jump from iOS 4 to iOS 5 would be mirrored in the latest release, but obviously that was not the case.

Minimal Immediate Impact

As the satisfaction number stands today, the small difference between iOS5 and iOS6 can likely be ignored, since iOS 6 upgrades have proven to be very popular2.  Also, iPhone 5 sales are very strong, with over 5 million delivered to customers in the first weekend of sales3.  Add to that the unknown number of preorders still in pipe (like mine, for example), and iOS 6 is on track to becoming the most popular version of iOS to date.

More importantly perhaps will be to measure any changes in iOS 6’s satisfaction rating as time goes on. Apple has a history of releasing updates in its operating system as a means of maintaining a high satisfaction rate, and no doubt maps will be improved. But it might be a while before Apple can fix it, and the toll that it can take over a prolonged period – well, that is hard to project for now.  Needless to say, it is easy to imagine that Apple is scrambling to find mapping experts.  The big question will be, can they fix it fast enough to keep its customer base growing?

(1)  http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/26/survey-ios-6-leads-to-decrease-in-device-satisfaction-among-iphone-users/

(2)  http://allthingsd.com/20120920/apple-maps-app-takes-reality-distortion-to-a-whole-new-level/?mod=tweet

(3)  http://allthingsd.com/20120920/usage-of-apples-ios-6-hits-staggering-levels-on-first-day-of-availability/

(4)   http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/09/24iPhone-5-First-Weekend-Sales-Top-Five-Million.html

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