Apple reportedly fires Maps chief as part of project's overhaul

Richard Williamson, the man in charge of the mapping software project, dismissed according to US report

Apple reportedly has fired the executive in charge of its mapping software, in a bid to get the troubled but strategic project back on track.

Senior Vice-President Eddy Cue has dismissed Richard Williamson, the man in charge of the mapping software project, according to a report by Bloomberg reporter Adam Satariano, who cited "people familiar with the move."

IN PICTURES: Apple's iOS 6 Maps mess

Cue recently took over two key services - Maps and the Siri voice assistant - in the wake of a major executive shakeup at Apple. He's reportedly "seeking advice from outside mapping-technology experts and prodding digital maps provider TomTom NV to fix landmark and navigation data [that] it shares with Apple," according to Bloomberg.

Apple Maps made a disappointing and controversial debut in September, as part of iOS 6 and iPhone 5. It is intended to be the strategic replacement for Google Maps, which Apple has used as the basis for iOS location and navigation services since the first iPhone in 2007. The new platform was criticized for unreliable searchers, for routes and directions that led users astray, and for its absence of directions for public transit services.

The flood of complaints led to a rare public apology by Apple, from President and CEO Tim Cook. His brief, and carefully worded, public letter did not in fact apologize for replacing Google with Apple's own location platform. Rather he apologizsd for the poor quality of the Maps user experience, acknowledged the frustration expressed by users, and promised the company would hard to improve the Maps experience.

Actions followed words. Cook announced an executive shakeup, in effect firing Scott Forstall, the Apple veteran in charge of iOS software for iPhones and iPads, including the Maps project. Forstall's responsibilities were divided up among other executives, with Eddy Cue taking Maps and Siri as part of his Internet Services and Software group, which includes the iTunes Store, App Store, iAd and iCloud.

Cue wants to create new leadership for the Maps group, according to one source in the Bloomberg story. It's not know if he's named a replacement. Bloomberg couldn't reach Williamson and an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on Cue's action.

Google is reportedly preparing a native Google Maps app for iOS.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: john_cox@nww.com

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Tags ios mapstomtomNVNetworkingios 6 mapswirelessapple mapsapple location serviceseddy cueBloombergAppleGoogleconsumer electronicssmartphonessoftwaremobile appsapple maps platform

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