While the challenges and shortcomings of Maps have been obvious to most (with a few notable exceptions), Cook's direct admission that Maps "fell short on [Apple's] commitment" to "deliver the best experience possible for our customers" may help the situation somewhat.
Interestingly, the letter suggests that users who are frustrated by Maps can avail themselves of third-party apps via the App Store -- or use the web versions of Google or Nokia's maps and bookmark them to the home screen. This workaround has certainly been mentioned in plenty of other contexts, but to have Apple's CEO come out and effectively say "Here, give our competitors' mapping products a go" is quite eyebrow-raising.
Full text of the letter below.
To our customers,
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.
We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.
There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.
While we're improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.
Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.
[hat tip TechCrunch]