Cartographie mobile: La géographie, ça sert aussi à faire la guerre! (From paper towns to paper countries: Apple joins Google’s brave new imaginary world)

Les serviteurs du maître de la maison vinrent lui dire: Seigneur (…) D’où vient donc qu’il y a de l’ivraie? Il leur répondit: C’est un ennemi qui a fait cela. Et les serviteurs lui dirent: Veux-tu que nous allions l’arracher? Non, dit-il, de peur qu’en arrachant l’ivraie, vous ne déraciniez en même temps le blé. Laissez croître ensemble l’un et l’autre jusqu’à la moisson. Jésus (Matt. 13: 27-30)
Voici, je vous envoie comme des brebis au milieu des loups. Soyez donc rusés comme les serpents et candides comme les colombes. Jésus (Matt. 10: 16)
Dans un monde de conspirations de haut niveau complètement imaginaires, quel soulagement d’en découvrir enfin une qui ne l’est pas! Straight dope
I grew up in Aughton – that’s the bit stuck on the bottom of Ormskirk. I lived there for most of my life but Google wants to wipe it off the face of the planet! Okay, it probably doesn’t – their motto is “Do No Evil” after all – but the power of Google has renamed Aughton to Argleton. I’m not sure which gazetteer they use but either other people use it too, or other sites are using the Google geocoder as the basis of their site because you can do all sorts of things in Argleton! From jobs, to hotels – even my old primary school! As more and more “Web 2.0″ services make use APIs, we’re placing our trust into a small number of services to provide good data with no clear way of challenging the accuracy of it. Please Google, don’t take away my childhood! Mike Nohan
Agloe began as a paper town created to protect against copyright infringement. But then people with these old Esso maps kept looking for it, and so someone built a store, making Agloe real. John Green
Les entrées fictives, également connues sous le nom de fausses entrées, Mountweazels, mots fantômes et articles bidons, sont des entrées ou des articles délibérément incorrects dans les ouvrages de référence tels que les dictionnaires, les encyclopédies, les cartes et les annuaires. Les entrées dans les ouvrages de référence sont normalement issues d’une source externe fiable, mais les entrées fictives ne disposent d’aucune source. Le piège à plagiaires est un cas spécifique où l’objectif est de débusquer le plagiat ou la violation du droit d’auteur.(…) On peut qualifier d’entrées fictives les cartes de villages fantômes, rues piège, rues ou villes de papier ou d’autres noms. Ils servent à piéger les responsables de violations du droit d’auteur. (…) En 1978, les villes fictives d’Ohio de Goblu (Allez les Bleus!) et de Beatosu (Battez l’OSU!) ont été insérées dans les cartes officielles du Michigan de cette année comme des clins d’oeil à l’université du Michigan et à sa rivale traditionnelle, l’université d’état d’Ohio. Les cartes trafiquées ont été retirées et se revendent aujourd’hui neuves à 150$. La ville fictive d’Agloe, dans l’état de New York a été inventée par les fabricants de carte, mais a fini par être reconnue par l’administration du comté comme un endroit réel du fait de l’érection à cet endroit originellent fictif d’un bâtiment réel, l’épicerie Agloe. Wikipedia
Un « œuf de Pâques » (Easter egg) (est) une rue surprise (parfois connue sous le nom de « rue piège » (trap street) (qui) a été insérée de telle manière que si vous essayez de copier la carte, le détenteur des droits peut prouver le plagiat. Sinon, pourquoi auriez-vous mis cette rue inexistante si vous ne l’aviez pas prise chez eux ?  (…) Une autre catégorie d’œufs de Pâques vient des fournisseurs de cartes numériques qui ne veulent pas voir leurs données copiées. Les bits les plus faibles sur les coordonnées géographiques sont systématiquement déformés de telle manière qu’il n’y a rien de visible pour l’utilisateur de la carte mais cela pourrait démontrer la copie lors d’une poursuite pour plagiat. Par exemple, si toutes les coordonnées ont un reste de 3 quand elles sont divisées par 7, ou sont déplacées d’une légère différence constante par rapport à leurs valeurs réelles. C’est pourquoi, n’utilisez pas de coordonnées de cartes numériques propriétaires même si vous comparez toutes les intersections et formes sur la cartes ! Les œufs de Pâques sur les cartes ont été découvertes et publiées à l’origine par Heath Bunting. Wiki

Depuis le temps qu’on vous que l’intéressant dans les scandales ou les controverses, c’est ce qu’ils révèlent sur ce qui jusque là passait pour normal!

Entrées fictives, fausses entrées, mountweazels, mots fantômes, articles bidons, oeufs de Pâques, fausses rues, rues piège, rues ou villes de papier, erreurs d’orthographes intentionnelles, facéties de cartographes, églises fantômes, reprises de phases d’étude préliminaire jamais réalisée ou non terminées, méga-plantages, panneaux routiers erronés …

Où l’on (re)découvre …

A l’heure où, avec ses autoroutes en tôle ondulée, ses montagnes manquantes, ses transformations de fermes en aéroports ou son escamotage de monuments, routes ou pays entiers, l’application Cartes du tout nouvel iphone 5 d’Apple fait les gorges chaudes des sites spécialisés …

Mais où il est si facile d’oublier qu’un Google maps qui en est à présent à la couverture des fonds marins et se vante d’une avance sur son concurrent de Palo Alto estimé à 400 ans, a lui aussi eu droit à ses méga-plantages …

Le monde impitoyable de la cartographie

Mais aussi, de plus en plus avec les progrès de la géolocalisation et les nouvelles générations de téléphones portables, celui de la cartographie mobile ou en ligne où les enjeux se comptent à présent en centaines de millions de dollars …

Un monde où, pour piéger ou se protéger de ses contrefacteurs mais aussi de ses concurrents, tous les coups ou presque semblent permis …

Et même… les plus monumentaux plantages!

Mystery of Argleton, the ‘Google’ town that only exists online

Argleton, a ‘phantom town’ in Lancashire that appears on Google Maps and online directories but doesn’t actually exist, has puzzled internet experts.

Mystery of Argleton, the ‘Google’ town that only exists online

Google and the company that supplies its mapping data are unable to explain the presence of the phantom town and are investigating Photo: GOOGLE

Rebecca Lefort

31 Oct 2009

The town appears on Google Maps in the middle of fields close to the M58 motorway, just south of Ormskirk.

Its ‘presence’ means that online businesses that use data from the software have detected it and automatically treated it as a real town in the L39 postcode area.

An internet search for the town now brings up a series of home, job and dating listings for people and places « in Argleton », as well as websites which help people find its nearest chiropractor and even plan jogging or hiking routes through it. The businesses, people and services listed are real, but are actually based elsewhere in the same postcode area.

Google and the company that supplies its mapping data are unable to explain the presence of the phantom town and are investigating.

Tantalisingly, “Argle” echoes the word “Google”, while the phantom town’s name is also an anagram of “Not Real G”, and “Not Large”.

One theory is that Argleton could have been deliberately added, as a trap to catch companies that violate the map’s copyright.

So-called « trap streets » are often inserted by cartographers but are, as their name suggests, usually far more minor and indiscreet that bogus towns.

Roy Bayfield, head of corporate marketing at what would be Argleton’s closest university, Edge Hill, in Ormskirk, was so intrigued by the mystery that he walked to the where the internet indicated was the centre of Argleton to check that there was definitely nothing there.

« A colleague of mine spotted the anomaly on Google Maps, and I thought ‘I’ve got to go there’, » he said.

« I started to weave this amazing fantasy about the place, an alternative universe, a Narnia-like world. I was really fascinated by the appearance of a non-existent place that the internet had the power to make real and give a semi-existence. »

When Mr Bayfield reached Argleton – which appears on Google Maps between Aughton and Aughton Park – he found just acres of green, empty fields.

Joe Moran, an academic at Liverpool John Moores University and map expert, said: « It could be a deliberate error so people can’t copy maps. Sometimes they put in fictional streets as the errors would prove they were stolen. I haven’t heard of it before on Google Maps. »

A spokesman for Google said: « While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors. We’re constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps and appreciate our users’ feedback in helping us do so. People can report an issue to the data provider directly and this will be updated at a later date. »

The data for the programme was provided by Dutch company Tele Atlas. A spokesman said it would now wipe the non-existent town from the map.

He added: « Mistakes like this are not common, and I really can’t explain why these anomalies get into our database. »

Voir aussi:

Welcome to Argleton, the town that doesn’t exist

If you used Google maps to try to go there, you’d find yourself in an otherwise empty field. So what’s going on?

Share 143

Leo Hickman

The Guardian, Tuesday 3 November 2009

View Larger Map Argleton on Google Maps

The world’s eyes are focused on a small village called Argleton just off the A59 near Ormskirk, Lancashire. Camera crews have been dispatched. « Argleton » is fast becoming a popular hashtag on Twitter. There is even talk of merchandising opportunities.

The reason for all the interest is simple: Argleton doesn’t actually exist. It is a phantom village that appears on Google Maps. You can search online for Argleton’s local weather forecast (10C yesterday), property prices (not much for sale at the moment) or for the number of a local plumber, but in reality the village’s coordinates point to little more than a muddy field. However, just a few hundred metres away stands the very real village of Aughton. So, is this a case of a simple spelling mistake by a cartographer? Or is Argleton evidence of something more conspiratorial afoot in the county? After all, the Ormskirk and Skelmersdale Advertiser has already posed the question of whether the Argleton mystery might indicate the presence of a « Bermuda triangle of West Lancashire ».

The man who originally noticed Argleton on Google Maps holds a somewhat more rational view. Mike Nolan works as head of web services at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk and posted on his blog more than a year ago that he’d noticed the anomaly.

« I grew up in the area and spotted on the map one day that it said ‘Argleton’, » he says. « But it’s just a farmer’s field close to the village hall and playing fields. I think a footpath goes across the field, but that’s all. The name ‘Argleton’ is similar to ‘Aughton’. Maybe someone made a mistake when keying in the name? »

It’s a plausible explanation, and one supported by Professor Danny Dorling, the president of the Society of Cartographers: « I would bet that this is an innocent mistake. In other words, it was not intentionally inserted to catch out anyone infringing the map’s copyright, as some are saying. But the bottom line is that we don’t know what mapping companies do to protect their maps or to hide secret locations, as some are obligated to do. » Dorling says that there is still even confusion about what constitutes a place: « Usually, a place is defined as anywhere mentioned three or more times on a 1-25,000 scale map. But if I was inventing a new place name I would have a bit more fun. For example, in Yorkshire there’s the area known by locals as Cleckuddersfax, which is a place name made from the nearby names of Cleckheaton, Huddersfield and Halifax. »

All Google is saying on the matter is that it does experience « occasional errors » and that the mapping information was provided by a Dutch company called Tele Atlas. And all Tele Atlas’s spokesperson will add is that « I really can’t explain why these anomalies get into our database. »

Voir encore:

Destination: Argleton! Visiting an imaginary place

walkinghometo50

February 22, 2009

Google Maps show an imaginary place near to where I live: a town with the ugly name of Argleton. This has been commented on elsewhere, with theories that they have simply got the name Aughton wrong (though Aughton appears as well), or that it is a deliberate mistake, designed to catch out unauthorised users of the maps, like a ‘trap street’ inserted in an A-Z map. However, Argleton does more than just sit there as a hidden feature: it shoves its way into people’s attention in many ways. Various software packages use Google’s geographical information, and Argleton seems to have primary claim on the surrounding postcodes – one can rent property there, or read inspection reports for its nurseries, at least according to the internet.

The possibility of actually visiting an imaginary place seemed irresistible. In terms of my journey, not to go there would be a dereliction of duty, like saying ‘I could have made a detour to Rock Candy Mountain’ or ‘Tir-nan-Og’, ‘but I decided to press on directly to Maghull instead’. So today I decided to make the expedition – from the world we know to a fictitious and uncertain place.

Reaching non-existent lands can be accomplished in many ways, but I decided to use Google itself to navigate to this one. After all, they invented it. I summoned up a route, which turned out to be a straightforward hike along the A59, rather than, say, a trip through the back of a wardrobe. Mundane as this may seem, I kept my eyes peeled for signs and portents – not knowing what relevance a strange map created from a faded planning notice, a partial alphabet tool in a closed-down garage, some broken fencing in the shape of a rune or a burning web may have in later stages of the journey. It pays to be prepared.

If Argleton were to feature in The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, it would have good company in the A section, such as Amazonia, Averoigne and Atlantis. Specifically it would nestle between Argia (which ‘has earth instead of air’ and where ‘the streets are completely filled with dirt…over the roofs of houses hang layers of rocky terrain like skies with clouds’) and Argyanna (‘a strategically important town in southern Rerek’).

I think what’s offensive about ‘Argleton’ is that it sounds like a mockery of Aughton. Perhaps it is like the Hellmouth in Sunnydale, except rather than being a portal for evil beings, it acts as the doorway for forces of debasement, parody, travesty and corruption; forces of error that subtly undermine and distort…

So I approached cautiously, peering towards it across innocent seeming fields,

finding the ‘place’ to be protected by various walls, broken fences (perhaps magically stronger in their broken-ness), wards and charms.

I moved towards the epicentre. I paused before passing beyond the realm of true names to that of the unashamedly fictional.

You have to take care at these times. It is all about detail… I had come equipped, with apparatus to protect me from any strangeness that might occur. I didn’t want to come out the other side reduced to a parody of myself, shambling out transformed into, say, Ray Byfield, Marketing Director of Argleton University. So I had with these items with me:

1. A Wonder Woman comic. I thought the Lasso of Truth, wielded by a character created by one of the inventors of the lie-detector, would provide some symbolic defence against irreality.

2. A bad copy of something else: Kyrik: Warlock Warrior (Gardner F. Fox, 1975) is a pastiche of Conan the Barbarian – a piece of entertaining but unoriginal hackwork; Kyrik is to Conan as Argleton is to Aughton. I thought a bit of this would be a kind of inoculation, passages like ‘The outlaws stared at that darkness, saw it shot through with streaks of vivid lightnings, red as the fires of Haderon’ acting as antigens against any reality-dissolving effects that might be encountered.

3. A toy tapir, bought recently at Transreal Fiction. I figured this little guy must be steeped in alternate worlds, having lived in a science fiction shop for a while – s/he could help navigate back to the real world if some compromised reality became confusing.

The time had come to walk in to Argleton itself. A small copse of trees, with a stream and a tumbledown kissing gate, seemed appropriately fairylandish. I paused to photograph the sky, a dim gesture towards Google’s Brother Eye satellites – watching, distorting, from above the bright skies.

A few more metres took me beyond the ‘argleton’ zone to Aughton itself, described in Arthur Mee’s Lancashire as ‘A Patchwork of the Centuries’. This description could lead a fancifully-minded person to expect some collage of time, with biplanes and pterodactyls flying above people hovering to the post office on their anti-gravity discs. However Mee was really just talking about the church, which unfortunately was locked. But, like Kyrik (p.79) I had ‘Enough [coins] for a wineskin and a leathern jack or two of ale’, so I visited the Stanley Arms. I ordered a pint of Clark‘s Classic Blonde, reflecting as I drank the pleasant hoppy beer (3.9% ABV) that I could construct the whole remaining journey around beer with risque names, and how my feminist pals of the late 70s would have boycotted pubs and breweries for this kind of thing. Guess I’ll be visiting our old haunts when I get to Brighton…

Then I began to think, had I actually left ‘Argleton’? Or was I still in some kind of alternate universe? The differences could be minor. Perhaps, in one of the decorative books arranged in an alcove in the pub, one word would be different. Or maybe when I left and peered back towards Liverpool, I would see Lutyens vast, never-built cathedral dominating the skyline, instead of the familiar wigwam.

And I was right to be concerned. As I left, I found the evidence: a discarded, new Woodbine packet in a hedgerow. I’m convinced that Woodbines don’t exist anymore, or rather that they hadn’t when I left home. It’s been a long time since Van Morrison ‘Bought five Woodbines at the shop on the corner’…

A pack with the health/death notice on it would be anachronistic, like a horsedrawn carriage with a CD player. But in this world, people still buy and smoke them. So here we are, through the looking glass. Argleton, and all unexisting paces, have become a tiny bit more real.

Voir de même:

Beatosu and Goblu, Ohio

-Bob Garrett, Archivist

We cropped the above image from a 1978 Michigan Department of Transportation highway map. The red arrow points to the town of Goblu, Ohio, seemingly located just south of Bono. Don’t look for « Goblu » on any Ohio road sign, however. It doesn’t actually exist!

Beatosu, Ohio 1978″Goblu » references a popular University of Michigan football cheer – « Go blue! » It’s not the only U of M cheer on this map. Look at the next county to the West, and you’ll find « Beatosu. » « Beatosu » divides into « Beat OSU!, » a reference to University of Michigan archrival Ohio State University. On the image to the right, you will find « Beatosu » between the real Ohio towns of Elmira and Burlington. Scroll down this page to see a « zoomed out » view of the map, allowing one to place the locations of « Goblu » and « Beatosu » in a wider context. Click 1978 Highway Map – Large Image to view a larger version of this image.

How could fictitious towns have been placed on a state highway map? Peter Fletcher, then Chairman of the Michigan State Highway Commission, admitted responsibility. To learn more, this author went directly to the source. I spoke to Peter Fletcher himself on October 24, 2008.

Mr. Fletcher told me the story behind this infamous map. He explained that a fellow University of Michigan alumnus had been teasing him about the Mackinac Bridge colors. According to Fletcher, this man wondered how Fletcher, as State Highway Commission Chairman, could allow the Bridge to be painted green and white. Those were the colors of Michigan State University! Mr. Fletcher noted that the bridge colors were in compliance with federal highway regulations, so he had no choice in that matter. He did, however, have more control over the state highway map. Mr. Fletcher said that he thus ordered a cartographer to insert the two fictitious towns. These towns displayed his loyalty to his alma mater.

Mr. Fletcher noted that the map accurately depicted the area within Michigan state lines. His imaginary towns were placed in Ohio, outside the map’s focus. « We have no legal liability for anything taking place in that intellectual swamp south of Monroe, » Mr. Fletcher jokingly told me. He added that he had never forgiven Ohio for the Toledo War of 1835!

I asked Mr. Fletcher about the public response. He noted that some University of Michigan alumni enjoyed the incident and that some people complained about wasting tax money. Mr. Fletcher said that then-Governor William Milliken had told him about complaints and that he had suggested a response: He said that Governor Milliken could tell objecting parties that Fletcher, as State Highway Commission Chairman, had been entitled to a $60,000 annual salary that he never collected. In contrast, Mr. Fletcher said, the ink for the errant maps cost about $6.00! Mr. Fletcher told me that Governor Milliken did not mention the incident to him again. Nonetheless, a revised 1978 map – one omitting « Goblu » and « Beatosu » – was soon issued. Le Roy Barnett, in his Michigan History magazine article « Paper Trails: The Michigan Highway Map » (November/December 1999 issue) states that only a limited number of maps containing the imaginary towns were printed. (Click Michigan History Magazine to order back issues.) Mr. Fletcher notes that the surviving copies have become coveted collector’s items.

Peter Fletcher currently serves as President of the Ypsilanti Credit Bureau. He states that his father started this business in 1924 and that he has been working there since he was eleven years old (He said that he began by emptying waste baskets.).

Regarding his Wolverine loyalty, Mr. Fletcher stated that he is « now a man of divided allegiance. » He explained that after leaving the State Highway Commission, he was elected a Michigan State University Trustee. Our interview occurred one day before the 2008 Michigan vs. Michigan State game, so I asked him about his game plans. « Some of my friends will be cheering for the Spartans, » he said, « and others for the Maize and Blue. I’ll be cheering along with my friends. »

The Archives of Michigan houses a number of official Michigan state highway maps, dating from 1912-2007. A copy of the original 1978 map – with the towns of « Goblu » and « Beatosu » included – is among these. Researchers can find these in the Department of Transportation records, Record Group #89-11. For more information, e-mail the Archives at archives@michigan.gov or call 517-373-1408. For visitor information (including hours and operation and parking), click Archives of Michigan Visitor Information.

The Martha W. Griffiths Rare Book Room, located on the Library of Michigan’s fourth floor, also houses a collection of Michigan state highway maps, dating from 1927 to the present. For more information on the Martha W. Griffiths Rare Book Room, click http://www.michigan.gov/rarebooks.

Voir ensuite:

A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil’s Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Do maps have « copyright traps » to permit detection of unauthorized copies?

— Cecil Adams

Straight dope

August 16, 1991

Dear Cecil:

Is it true that, as my father says, companies that produced maps (Rand McNally, etc.) make up some little bitty towns and dot them around their map design so they can tell if anyone copies it? Has anyone ever gotten lost trying to find one of those made-up towns?

— Susan Owen, College Station, Texas

Dear Susan:

You are talking about « copyright traps. » They are devious. They exist. In a world of high-level conspiracies that are completely imaginary, it’s a relief to discover one that’s not.

For the record, the folks at Rand McNally swear on a stack of road atlases that they would never use copyright traps. However, they admit a small regional map company called Champion they bought a while back did put a copyright trap into a map on at least one occasion. The trap consisted of a nonexistent street stuck into a map of a medium-sized city in New York state–a fact that was gleefully revealed on a network news show.

On investigating, Rand McNally found some smart-aleck cartographer (and you know what a wild and crazy bunch they are) had gone ahead and done the wicked deed on his own. Whether the guy committed other cartographic sabotage I don’t know. But the possibility of additional fakery does exist–and may for a while, since checking every detail of a map is a huge job. Not that I’d get into a panic about it, but on your next road trip you might want to bring a flashlight just in case.

NOWHERESVILLE

I thought you’d like to know a little more about the often-discussed but never officially acknowledged practice of putting copyright traps on commercial maps. The closest I’ve ever come to finding such a trap is the fictional town of Westdale, which appears on the 1982 Rand McNally Road Atlas map of metro Chicago. By 1986 it had disappeared. I also enclose some illustrations from Mark Monmonier’s book How to Lie with Maps, which show some phony towns added to a map of Ohio as a prank. –Dennis McClendon, Chicago

It happened to Brigadoon, why not Westdale? Although I have to say the industrial suburbs west of Chicago seem like an unpromising locale for an enchanted vanishing village. Actually, the folks at Rand McNally claim it was all an honest mistake. They say a real estate developer submitted a plan for a community called Westdale that was approved but never built. Somehow this found its way into the Rand McNally road atlas and years went by before anybody noticed.

This story is slightly fishy; the area in question, though unincorporated, was built up decades ago. But a Rand McNally spokesman reasonably inquires, « Why would we put in copyright traps and then not tell anybody they were there? » If one assumes the main value of traps is deterrence, good question.

Errors of this sort apparently happen fairly often. In his book Mark Monmonier shows several « paper streets »–planned but not built–on an official map of Syracuse, New York.

Of course, when it comes to map errors, you can’t overlook the possibility of a little good-natured sabotage. Monmonier mentions two prank towns appearing in an official map of Michigan, the edge of which showed portions of the neighboring state of Ohio. Some diehard Wolverine fan in the mapmaking department decided that would be a good place to put the nonexistent towns of « goblu » (Go Blue, get it?) and « beatosu, » referring to the University of Michigan’s traditional rival Ohio State. If you had to spend all day staring at squiggly lines and benday dots, you’d need some way to let off steam, too.

MAP TRAPS: THE SMOKING GUN AT LAST

Perhaps the enclosed clipping will put an end to your agnosticism about map companies inventing fictitious geographic detail for copyright purposes. –Robert Carlson, Los Angeles

Reader Carlson encloses a clipping from the March 22, 1981 Los Angeles Times about the Thomas Brothers map company, which publishes maps of southern California. The article says:

« [Thomas Brothers vice president Barry Elias admits] that the company sprinkles fictitious names throughout its guides…. `We put them in for copyright reasons,’ he said. `If someone is reproducing one of our maps (as with a photocopier) and selling them, we can prove an infringement.’

« Of course, the make-believe streets are little ones. The mythical avenues normally run no longer than a block, dead end, and are shown with broken lines (as though they are under construction).

« Elias revealed that the guides for San Bernadino and Riverside counties have the heaviest concentration of fictitious streets–`between 100 and 200. . . . We try to come up with names that would fit in with the area [such as La Taza Drive and Loma Drive]. . . . Spanish sounding names are very big now.' »

So that accounts for all those lost-looking folks you see around LA. The grim effects of drugs? Naah, they just have Thomas maps.

COME TO THINK OF IT, THEY LOOK PRETTY LOST IN WISCONSIN, TOO

Looking at a recent map of Madison I noticed that it showed a friend’s house was located in a city park, and didn’t show another park at all. So I called the map company [Badger Map, Wonder Lake, Illinois], and they were quite straightforward in pointing out that errors are intentionally introduced to protect the copyright on their maps. –Dennis W. Gordon, Madison, Wisconsin

So there we have it. And now I may as well come clean. Every time I publish a book, a few subverters of public order write in to point out what they claim are mistakes. Mistakes, my arse. Copyright traps.

— Cecil Adams

Voir par ailleurs:

Le flop mondial et désastreux d’Apple Maps

Olivier Perrin

Le Temps

26 septembre 2012

Bourrée de bugs et incomplète, la comique solution de cartographie Maps d’Apple est une énorme déception. Depuis quelques jours, elle est la risée du Web

Dans un vaisseau de Star Wars en hyper-progression dans l’hyper-­espace, un personnage scrutant l’horizon infini constate: «Ce n’est par une lune, c’est une station spatiale.» Et Han Solo, sous les traits d’Harrison Ford, de lui répondre: «Mais Apple Maps assure que c’est une lune.» Ce gag posté sous la forme d’une photo retouchée sur le compte Twitter de ppgarcia75 dit bien à quel point, depuis quelques jours, la Toile entière se marre de la nouvelle application Apple Maps.

A tel point que le site Business Insider n’hésite pas à parler de «désastre». «Dans l’histoire de l’iPhone et d’iOS, on n’a pas souvenir d’un tel ratage», confirme Le Nouvel Observateur. Comme le résume un esprit mutin: «Je viens de voir Maps. J’apprécie les efforts d’Apple pour pousser les gens à choisir Android.» Conclusion: «En choisissant de se séparer de ­Google Maps, et d’opter pour sa propre solution, Apple prenait un risque, et malheureusement, c’est un échec pour l’instant.»

Tout un poème, selon la Tribune de Genève, qui parle de «grandes villes introuvables» de «ponts et routes déformés»: bref, «Apple a énervé ses fans en leur imposant son nouveau système de cartes rempli de bugs et a peut-être fait une erreur stratégique en voulant évincer de ses iPhone l’application très populaire de son grand rival Google».

Vienne ou Nuremberg?

Et d’en citer, via Tumblr, toute une série sur une page spéciale, dont une au Tessin. Mais encore: «En Suède, un célèbre voilier-auberge de jeunesse «a coulé», et la deuxième ville du pays, ­Göteborg, semble avoir disparu, rapportent des utilisateurs, photo à l’appui. En Autriche, le Palais de justice de Vienne est présenté comme celui de Nuremberg, une ville allemande située à des centaines de kilomètres de là.»

«Apple le reconnaît lui-même, lit-on sur le site Atlantico: son service de cartes sur l’iOS6 n’est pas au point. […] Twitter et Facebook débordent de plaisanteries et de critiques sur les monumentales ou hilarantes erreurs relevées par les utilisateurs dans ses fonds de cartes. Qu’est-il arrivé à la fameuse perfection des produits Apple?» Le site Mashable en a publié un best of, où il repère «les trous noirs, les autoroutes en tôle ondulée et les montagnes manquantes». Tandis que pour Fortune, qui raisonne évidemment plutôt en termes de management, «le divorce et la rupture du contrat de cinq ans avec les fonds de cartes de Google Maps a été l’erreur monumentale commise […] avant le décès de Steve Jobs, car rien ne peut actuellement se mesurer à la qualité» de ses cartes et résultats de recherche, fruit «des données de géolocalisation engrangées depuis une décennie».

Les utilisateurs peuvent aussi s’apercevoir «que de nombreuses prises de vue en trois dimensions ne sont pas au point», précisent Les Echos. Parmi «les clichés les plus insolites: la tour Eiffel écrasée, le pont de Brooklyn coupé, des routes s’enfonçant dans le sol… La couche d’informations venant compléter les cartes (noms des magasins, des bâtiments ou des rues) semble, elle aussi, aléatoire.» Au point qu’Apple chercherait à recruter du côté de Google afin de perfectionner son application cartographique et de faire oublier ce que Le Vif belge appelle «le premier bug de l’après-Steve Jobs».

Il existe même un faux compte Twitter sur ces fameuses cartes, indique 20 Minutes France, qui parle assez joliment de «mapocalypse» en citant aussi Gizmodo, site horrifié par une carte certes esthétique de Manhattan, mais d’où a simplement disparu… la statue de la Liberté! D’ailleurs, ­Nokia n’a pas manqué de sauter sur l’occasion pour se moquer de son rival. Son blogueur, Pino Bonetti, rappelle «que joli n’est pas suffisant: il faut de l’excellence».

Crime de lèse-majesté

Dans la foulée, Le Monde indique que «le système de cartographie tant attendu semble loin d’être à la hauteur». Et de citer la BBC, qui recense aussi toute «une série d’erreurs», dont celle qui touche le «légendaire club de football de Manchester United, remplacé dans la recherche par le club football Sale United, destiné aux enfants dès 5 ans. On frôle le crime de lèse-majesté, à ce niveau-là.»

Encore plus instructif, le site de l’audiovisuel public britannique propose également un article rapprochant les mêmes cartes, version Google et version Apple, qui met en scène cette «guerre» des cartes. Qui fait rire au bout du compte une catégorie d’utilisateurs: ceux qui ne s’en servent pas, et qui préfèrent encore ce bon vieux papier.

Apple : véritable flop sur son service iOS 6 Maps

Apple le reconnait lui-même : son service de cartes sur l’iOS6 n’est pas au point. Depuis quelques jours, Twitter et Facebook débordent de plaisanteries et de critiques sur les monumentales ou hilarantes erreurs relevées par les utilisateurs dans ses fonds de cartes. Qu’est-il arrivé à la fameuse perfection des produits Apple ? Les analystes se sont penchés sur un monumental ratage.

Apple et ses nouveaux joujoux

Les premiers testeurs de l’iOS6 d’Apple étrenné avec le nouvel iPhone5 s’amusent à relever tous ses défauts.

Depuis mercredi dernier, les premiers testeurs de l’iOS6 d’Apple étrenné avec le nouvel iPhone5 s’amusent beaucoup à relever tous ses défauts ou à pointer les déceptions qu’ils réservent, et le nouveau service de cartographie, en particulier, fait l’unanimité contre lui. Les cartes d’Apple, qui souhaitait divorcer de Google et de ses Maps, ne sont pas au point… c’est le moins que l’on puisse dire. Un Américain a même ouvert un blog pour compiler les captures d’écran des plus étranges des résultats de recherche : The amazing iOS6 maps (les incroyables cartes iOS6).

Le site Mashable a publié un best-off, « Le monde selon les cartes d’Apple », et sur Twitter comme Facebook, les trous noirs, les autoroutes en tôle ondulée et les montagnes manquantes font la joie des internautes. Que s’est-il passé ? Apple étant un grand de la bourse et du secteur tech, une marque misant tout sur la « perfection » de ses produits (chers), un échec aussi cuisant a bien sûr été analysé par tous les spécialistes de la cartographie, de la géolocalisation et de la bourse.

Pour Fortune, le divorce et la rupture du contrat de 5 ans avec les fonds de cartes de Google Maps a été l’erreur monumentale commise par le management (avant le décès de Steve Jobs), car rien ne peut actuellement se mesurer à la qualité des cartes et résultats de recherche de Google Maps, fruits des données de géolocalisation engrangées depuis une décennie par Google.

« Les célèbres voitures Google qui vont et viennent dans les rues du monde entier pour compiler les images de Street View sont ce qui attire le plus d’attention, mais ce sont les milliards de milliards de données, fournies par des millions d’utilisateurs, qui font que Google Maps semblent si intelligentes, et les nouvelles cartes de l’iOS6 stupides à en mourir de rire ».

« 400 ans de retard » sur Google Maps?

Un consultant en technologies de cartographie a analysé ce qui a manqué à Apple sur le site Telemapics, et sur ce qui provoque les remarques actuelles, que Google Maps aurait « 400 ans d’avance ».

« Peut être l’erreur la plus énorme est que l’équipe Apple s’est appuyée sur un contrôle de qualité par algorithmes et non via un processus partiellement validé par l’analyse humaine. Vous ne pouvez pas voir les erreurs de Apple Maps sans réaliser que ces cartes ont été examinées visuellement et utilisées pour la première fois par les clients de Apple, et non par l’équipe QC de Apple. Quand (…) Google a initialement tenté de développer un service de cartes de qualité, vous noterez qu’il ont d’abord essayé d’automatiser tout le processus, et ont misérablement échoué, comme Apple. Google a appris que vous ne pouvez pas enlever l’humain de l’équation. Même si les mathématiques derrière la cartographie semblent relativement basiques, je peux vous assurer que si vous ôtez de l’équation l’observateur humain qui possède une connaissance locale et cartographique vous allez produire exactement ce que Apple a produit : un système qui foire ».

Apple n’avait pas le choix

C’est la conclusion d’après-désastre de Countermotions dans une Foire aux questions élaborée sur le « plantage » de Apple maps.

Q: Alors, pourquoi Apple a-t-il chassé Google Maps de la plateforme iOS ? Est-ce que Apple n’aurait pas mieux fait de proposer Google Maps, pendant qu’il construisait sa propre application de fonds de cartes ? Apple n’aurait il pas mieux fait d’attendre ?

R: Attendre quoi ? Que Google renforce son emprise sur un service clé de l’iOS? Apple a compris l’importance de la cartographie mobile et acquis plusieurs sociétés de cartographie, des participations et des talents, au cours des dernières années. La cartographie est en effet l’un des services les plus compliqués sur mobile, elle implique d’avoir des données physique, terrestres, et aériennes, un système de collecte de données, de correction, l’élaboration de couches et de couches d’informations contextuelles mariées aux données sous-jacentes, et tout cela optimisé pour être interrogé fréquemment dans des conditions de connexion et de réseaux souvent difficiles. Malheureusement, comme la numérotation sur ordre vocal ou la synthèse vocale (rappelez-vous Siri), la cartographie est l’une de ces technologies qui ne peuvent pas être totalement incubée en laboratoire pendant quelques années et jetées à la face de plusieurs centaines de millions d’utilisateurs dans plus de 100 pays à un stade ‘mature ». . Les millions de signalements des individus autour du monde, par exemple, ont aidé Google a corriger d’innombrables erreurs au cours de la dernière décennie. Sans cette exposition aux utilisateurs et sans aide « du terrain », une solution de cartographie sur téléphone mobile comme celle d’Apple n’a aucune chance ».

Reste la question, « comment Apple a-t-il pu si mal manager et les cartes et la mini crise qui s’en est ensuivie », ou beaucoup, voit des signes d’effritement du géant Apple à l’ère de l’après Steve Jobs. Le site de tech Monday Note revient sur l’arrogance d’Apple et son mépris pour les plus simples et fondamentales des règles de relations avec les clients.

 » Je n’arrive pas à comprendre pourquoi les cadres d’Apple ont ignoré cette simple règle de relations saines avec des clients. Au lieu de cela, nous recevons des déclarations fatigantes de suffisance.…Apple dessine les Macs, les meilleurs ordinateurs personnels au monde…Nous (fabriquons) les meilleurs produits au monde. Cette auto-promotion viole une autre règle. N’allez pas crier sur les toits à quel point vous êtes bon dans le, disons en cuisine, laissez ceux qui ont profité de votre talent culinaire faire vos éloges.

L’épisode ridiculisant que Apple a essuyé après le lancement de l’application Cartes dans iOS 6 est en grande partie sa propre faute. La démo était impeccable, des cartes 2D et 3D, des navigations en survol spectaculaires…mais pas un mot sur le podium sur les limites de l’application, pas de clin d’œil pour rire de soi, pas d’aveux que les cartes iOS sont un bébé qui doit apprendre à marcher à quatre pattes avant de marcher, de courir, et en temps voulu, de dépasser le champion, Google Maps. Au lieu de cela, on nous dit que les cartes d’Apple pourraient bien être “le plus beau et le puissant des services de cartographie jamais créé.”

Il donne aussi un ‘tip » pour sortir de l’enfer des cartes Apple et retrouver le confort des cartes google maps sur un iphone ou ipad.

« C’est simple comme bonjour. Ajoutez maps.google.com en tant qu’application web à votre écran d’accueil, et voilà. Google Maps, sans attendre que Google rende disponible une application iOS ou que Apple l’approuve. Ou alors, vous pouvez passer à des applis de cartographie telles que Navigon. »

Voir aussi:

Why Apple pulled the plug on Google Maps

Philip Elmer-DeWitt

September 23, 2012

The company’s real mistake may have been not doing it years ago

FORTUNE — Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been feeding geographical information into Google’s (GOOG) mapping database for years — searching for addresses, sharing my location, checking for traffic jams on Google Maps. Google, for its part, has been scraping that data for every nugget of intelligence its computers can extract. Without consciously volunteering, I’ve been participating in a massive crowdsourcing experiment — perhaps the largest the world has ever seen. Who knows what I might have been teaching Google Maps if I’d been navigating the surface of the planet with an Android phone in my pocket?

Apple (AAPL), by building its much-loved (and now much-missed) iPhone Maps app on Google’s mapping database, has been complicit in this Herculean data collection exercise since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. The famous Google cars that drive up and down the byways of the world collecting Street View images get most of the attention, but it’s the billions upon billions of data points supplied by hundreds of millions of users that make Google Maps seem so smart and iOS 6’s new Maps app seem so laughably stupid.

In Saturday’s New York Times, Op Ed columnist Joe Nocera asks: « If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? Interesting question, isn’t it? »

No Joe, it’s not an interesting question. It’s the No. 1 cliché of the post-Jobsian era.

Besides, the decision to pull the plug on Google’s mapping database at the end of what was probably a five-year contract had to have been made while Jobs was running the company.

« Not doing its own Maps would be a far bigger mistake, » says Asymco’s Horace Dediu, who addressed the issue at length in last week’s Critical Path podcast. « The mistake was not getting involved in maps sooner, which was on Jobs’ watch. Nokia saw the writing on the wall five years ago and burned $8 billion to get in front of the problem. The pain Apple feels now is deferred from when they decided to hand over that franchise to Google at the beginning of iPhone. »

It’s easy to poke fun at Apple’s Maps app in its current state. I’ve had my share of laughs, starting last June (see here and here), and now everybody is piling on.

But the fact is, the company found itself in the position of feeding its customers’ priceless location information into the mapping database of its mortal enemy. That couldn’t go on forever.

Weaning itself from Google Maps will not be easy. It may be one of the hardest things Apple has ever tried to do.

If you’ve seen enough examples of the boneheaded mistakes Apple Maps is making and want to get a sense of what’s involved in correcting them, I recommend Mike Dobson’s Google Maps announces a 400 year advantage over Apple Maps.

Dobson, a former professor of geography at SUNY Albany, was Rand McNally’s chief cartographer from 1986 to 2000 and now runs a consulting service called TeleMapics.

« Perhaps the most egregious error, » he writes, « is that Apple’s team relied on quality control by algorithm and not a process partially vetted by informed human analysis. You cannot read about the errors in Apple Maps without realizing that these maps were being visually examined and used for the first time by Apple’s customers and not by Apple’s QC teams. If Apple thought that the results were going to be any different than they are, I would be surprised. Of course, hubris is a powerful emotion. »

Dobson has been fielding and answering questions from readers in the comment stream of his Exploring Local blog. It’s like a graduate seminar in cartography. I hope someone at Apple is auditing it.

UPDATE: Jean-Louis Gassée’s Monday Note has, as usual, a sensible take on the issue:

The ridicule that Apple has suffered following the introduction of the Maps application in iOS 6 is largely self-inflicted. The demo was flawless, 2D and 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, spectacular flyovers…but not a word from the stage about the app’s limitations, no self-deprecating wink, no admission that iOS Maps is an infant that needs to learn to crawl before walking, running, and ultimately lapping the frontrunner, Google Maps. Instead, we’re told that Apple’s Maps may be « the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever. »

Voir également:

Apple Maps: Damned If You Do, Googled If You Don’t

Jean-Louis Gassée

September 23, 2012

While still a teenager, my youngest daughter was determined to take on the role of used car salesperson when we sold our old Chevy Tahoe. Her approach was impeccable: Before letting the prospective buyer so much as touch the car, she gave him a tour of its defects, the dent in the rear left fender, the slight tear in the passenger seat, the fussy rear window control. Only then did she lift the hood to reveal the pristine engine bay. She knew the old rule: Don’t let the customer discover the defects.

Pointing out the limitations of your product is a sign of strength, not weakness. I can’t fathom why Apple execs keep ignoring this simple prescription for a healthy relationship with their customers. Instead, we get tiresome boasting: …Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world…we [make] the best products on earth. This self-promotion violates another rule: Don’t go around telling everyone how good you are in the, uhm…kitchen; let those who have experienced your cookmanship do the bragging for you.

The ridicule that Apple has suffered following the introduction of the Maps application in iOS 6 is largely self-inflicted. The demo was flawless, 2D and 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, spectacular flyovers…but not a word from the stage about the app’s limitations, no self-deprecating wink, no admission that iOS Maps is an infant that needs to learn to crawl before walking, running, and ultimately lapping the frontrunner, Google Maps. Instead, we’re told that Apple’s Maps may be “the most beautiful, powerful mapping service ever.”

After the polished demo, the released product gets a good drubbing: the Falkland Islands are stripped of roads and towns, bridges and façades are bizarrely rendered, an imaginary airport is discovered in a field near Dublin.

Pageview-driven commenters do the expected. After having slammed the “boring” iPhone 5, they reversed course when preorders exceed previous records, and now they reverse course again when Maps shows a few warts.

Even Joe Nocera, an illustrious NYT writer, joins the chorus with a piece titled Has Apple Peaked? Note the question mark, a tired churnalistic device, the author hedging his bet in case the peak is higher still, lost in the clouds. The piece is worth reading for its clichés, hyperbole, and statements of the obvious: “unmitigated disaster”, “the canary in the coal mine”, and “Jobs isn’t there anymore”, tropes that appear in many Maps reviews.

(The implication that Jobs would have squelched Maps is misguided. I greatly miss Dear Leader but my admiration for his unsurpassed successes doesn’t obscure my recollection of his mistakes. The Cube, antennagate, Exchange For The Rest of Us [a.k.a MobileMe], the capricious skeuomorphic shelves and leather stitches… Both Siri — still far from reliable — and Maps were decisions Jobs made or endorsed.)

The hue and cry moved me to give iOS 6 Maps a try. Mercifully, my iPad updated by itself (or very nearly so) while I was busy untangling family affairs in Palma de Mallorca. A break in the action, I opened the Maps app and found old searches already in memory. The area around my Palma hotel was clean and detailed:

Similarly for my old Paris haunts:

The directions for my trip from the D10 Conference to my home in Palo Alto were accurate, and offered a choice of routes:

Yes, there are flaws. Deep inside rural France, iOS Maps is clearly lacking. Here’s Apple’s impression of the countryside:

…and Google’s:

Still, the problems didn’t seem that bad. Of course, the old YMMV saying applies: Your experience might be much worse than mine.

Re-reading Joe Nocera’s piece, I get the impression that he hasn’t actually tried Maps himself. Nor does he point out that you can still use Google Maps on an iPhone or iPad:

The process is dead-simple: Add maps.google.com as a Web App on your Home Screen and voilà, Google Maps without waiting for Google to come up with a native iOS app, or for Apple to approve it. Or you can try other mapping apps such as Navigon. Actually, I’m surprised to see so few people rejoice at the prospect of a challenger to Google’s de facto maps monopoly.

Not all bloggers have fallen for the “disaster” hysteria. In this Counternotions blog post,”Kontra”, who is also a learned and sardonic Twitterer, sees a measure of common sense and strategy on Apple’s part:

Q: Then why did Apple kick Google Maps off the iOS platform? Wouldn’t Apple have been better off offering Google Maps even while it was building its own map app? Shouldn’t Apple have waited?

A: Waited for what? For Google to strengthen its chokehold on a key iOS service? Apple has recognized the significance of mobile mapping and acquired several mapping companies, IP assets and talent in the last few years. Mapping is indeed one of the hardest of mobile services, involving physical terrestrial and aerial surveying, data acquisition, correction, tile making and layer upon layer of contextual info married to underlying data, all optimized to serve often under trying network conditions. Unfortunately, like dialect recognition or speech synthesis (think Siri), mapping is one of those technologies that can’t be fully incubated in a lab for a few years and unleashed on several hundred million users in more than a 100 countries in a “mature” state. Thousands of reports from individuals around the world, for example, have helped Google correct countless mapping failures over the last half decade. Without this public exposure and help in the field, a mobile mapping solution like Apple’s stands no chance.

And he makes a swipe at the handwringers:

Q: Does Apple have nothing but contempt for its users?

A: Yes, Apple’s evil. When Apple barred Flash from iOS, Flash was the best and only way to play .swf files. Apple’s video alternative, H.264, wasn’t nearly as widely used. Thus Apple’s solution was “inferior” and appeared to be against its own users’ interests. Sheer corporate greed! Trillion words have been written about just how misguided Apple was in denying its users the glory of Flash on iOS. Well, Flash is now dead on mobile. And yet the Earth’s obliquity of the ecliptic is still about 23.4°. We seemed to have survived that one.

For Apple, Maps is a strategic move. The Cupertino company doesn’t want to depend on a competitor for something as important as maps. The road (pardon the pun) will be long and tortuous, and it’s unfortunate that Apple has made the chase that much harder by failing to modulate its self-praise. but think of the number of times the company has been told You Have No Right To Do This…think smartphones, stores, processors, refusing to depend on Adobe’s Flash…

(As I finished writing this note, I found out Philip Ellmer-DeWitt also takes issue with Joe Nocera’s position and bromides in his Apple 2.0 post. And Brian Hall, in his trademark colorful style, also strongly disagrees with the NYT writer.)

Let’s just hope a fully mature Maps won’t take as long as it took to transform MobileMe into iCloud.

Voir encore:

Has Apple Peaked?

Joe Nocera

The New York Times

September 21, 2012

If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? Interesting question, isn’t it?

As Apple’s chief executive, Jobs was a perfectionist. He had no tolerance for corner-cutting or mediocre products. The last time Apple released a truly substandard product — MobileMe, in 2008 — Jobs gathered the team into an auditorium, berated them mercilessly and then got rid of the team leader in front of everybody, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs. The three devices that made Apple the most valuable company in America — the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad — were all genuine innovations that forced every other technology company to play catch-up.

No doubt, the iPhone 5, which went on sale on Friday, will be another hit. Apple’s halo remains powerful. But there is nothing about it that is especially innovative. Plus, of course, it has that nasty glitch. In rolling out a new operating system for the iPhone 5, Apple replaced Google’s map application — the mapping gold standard — with its own, vastly inferior, application, which has infuriated its customers. With maps now such a critical feature of smartphones, it seems to be an inexplicable mistake.

And maybe that’s all it is — a mistake, soon to be fixed. But it is just as likely to turn out to be the canary in the coal mine. Though Apple will remain a highly profitable company for years to come, I would be surprised if it ever gives us another product as transformative as the iPhone or the iPad.

Part of the reason is obvious: Jobs isn’t there anymore. It is rare that a company is so completely an extension of one man’s brain as Apple was an extension of Jobs. While he was alive, that was a strength; now it’s a weakness. Apple’s current executive team is no doubt trying to maintain the same demanding, innovative culture, but it’s just not the same without the man himself looking over everybody’s shoulder. If the map glitch tells us anything, it is that.

But there is also a less obvious — yet possibly more important — reason that Apple’s best days may soon be behind it. When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, after 12 years in exile, Apple was in deep trouble. It could afford to take big risks and, indeed, to search for a new business model, because it had nothing to lose.

Fifteen years later, Apple has a hugely profitable business model to defend — and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens. “The business model becomes a gilded cage, and management won’t do anything to challenge it, while doing everything they can to protect it,” says Larry Keeley, an innovation strategist at Doblin, a consulting firm.

It happens in every industry, but it is especially easy to see in technology because things move so quickly. It was less than 15 years ago that Microsoft appeared to be invincible. But once its Windows operating system and Office applications became giant moneymakers, Microsoft’s entire strategy became geared toward protecting its two cash cows. It ruthlessly used its Windows platform to promote its own products at the expense of rivals. (The Microsoft antitrust trial took dead aim at that behavior.) Although Microsoft still makes billions, its new products are mainly “me-too” versions of innovations made by other companies.

Now it is Apple’s turn to be king of the hill — and, not surprisingly, it has begun to behave in a very similar fashion. You can see it in the patent litigation against Samsung, a costly and counterproductive exercise that has nothing to do with innovation and everything to do with protecting its turf.

And you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally, Google is now a rival, and the thought of allowing Google to promote its maps on Apple’s platform had become anathema. More to the point, Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not as good as those from rivals. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer, nimbler competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.

Even before Jobs died, Apple was becoming a company whose main goal was to defend its business model. Yes, he would never have allowed his minions to ship such an embarrassing application. But despite his genius, it is unlikely he could have kept Apple from eventually lapsing into the ordinary. It is the nature of capitalism that big companies become defensive, while newer rivals emerge with better, smarter ideas.

“Oh my god,” read one Twitter message I saw. “Apple maps is the worst ever. It is like using MapQuest on a BlackBerry.”

MapQuest and BlackBerry.

Exactly.

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