Fear & Loathing in Nerdtown: Apple Maps & Twitter Shutoffs
My Twitter feed is full of people bitching about the new Apple Maps in iOS6 today, plus IFTTT shutting down pushing tweets into other places because of Twitter’s new TOS. Pretty different things, but in my part of the Twittersphere, similar sense of outrage.
For my part on Apple Maps in iOS6, I’ve had a pretty reasonable experience with them. They’re beautiful, for starters (when they’re not showing some sort of hellish Brooklyn Bridge scenario, or Indianapolis in 2 dimensions — actually, that one has a sort of beauty all its own). But search has generally worked, directions has generally worked. And the data quality has been pretty good.
I think the most reasonable outrage to feel is this: Apple launched something for users that was a step backwards in both quality (of the data) and actual functionality (like transit directions — but, try Lumatic!). And that it felt too early for them to launch it since it’s really a step back, and since it seems so clearly purely motivated at getting their competitor Google out of the default position.
In my view, on the transit directions, I think that’s clearly right — they shouldn’t have launched without transit — it’s crappy for everyone. But I think they must have figured they just didn’t know how to do something in time.
On the quality of the map data, I’m not as sure. The world is a big place, it turns out. Tough to find all the bugs in a giant map. And I think it’s likely that Apple’s calculus was that they wouldn’t be able to get the data quality good enough without getting everyone in the world to start using the maps and giving feedback. I think that’s not a bad call to make, figuring that they’re going to be able to weather the storm and will eventually end up with a much higher quality data source.
Anyway, it does feel premature to me for them to have done this, and I think will cause a bit of a backlash when Google Maps for iOS6 comes out. But it’s hardly a Ping situation for Apple.
The Twitter outrage has been more or less constant over the past few weeks (and, you know, mostly expressed over Twitter itself, in some sort of weird irony).
Doesn’t seem to me like anyone has a right to be ticked that they’re doing what they want to with their technology, and especially finding ways to make money to actually run what’s become a critical global service.
But it does seem to me to be creating a sizable and growing antipathy from developers towards Twitter. I’m bummed about this overall, because I think the energy and experimentation around Twitter over the last few years has been sort of amazing.
We have an investment in IFTTT, for example — and it’s such a fun (nerdy!) service that helps make your Tweets more useful & valuable by doing things like automatically archiving them to Evernote or pushing your favorite tweets into Pocket — or a million other things. IFTTT is turning off the ability to push Tweets into other places next week though, so they don’t run afoul of the Twitter Terms of Service.
Bums me out, because I think things like IFTTT don’t threaten Twitter’s ability to make money and build a business in any real way. And, in fact, they actually increase the value of the system for users — people are using these things (1) because they really care about what happens on Twitter and (2) the existing Twitter system doesn’t support them in any way.
Unlike the Apple Maps maneuver, which I think will blow over pretty quickly, I think Twitter runs the risk of driving away a ton of developers and generating ill will from the people who are trying to find new, fun, interesting ways to use what they’ve built so well to date.
Aside from the IFTTT thing, that bums me out a bit. It won’t make me leave Twitter or use it less than I already do — it’s really a service that I love, love, love, and have many of my most interactions on. But it makes me a little sad to start with, and I hope that Twitter does indeed have the strength they must think they have to be able to weather the disillusionment of developers.
Anyway, weird times out here on the Left coast. Platforms grow up and make choices. Time will tell.