HomeBlog Five Lessons for B2B Marketers from Apple's iOS 6 Maps Gaffe

Five Lessons for B2B Marketers from Apple's iOS 6 Maps Gaffe

September 26, 2012 | By Jeff Lash

Last week's much-hyped release of the iPhone 5 has been somewhat overshadowed by the morning-after realization that the Apple Maps "upgrade" in iOS 6 is considered by many to be a step backward from the Google Drive Maps app included in previous versions of iOS. The new app does include valuable new features like turn-by-turn navigation, 3D and Flyover views, but the coverage and level of detail are a step back in many cases.

While only time will tell whether this will hurt Apple in the long run, this product launch has provided some lessons for B2B marketers:

  • Don't deliver "nice to have" without "must have." Appleā€™s new features certainly represent value-adds, though turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic are not as valuable if the directions are not accurate or the level of detail is not as comprehensive. Marketers and product managers need to make sure they have satisfied basic expectations before moving on to "surprise and delight" features.
  • Be extra careful when relaunching a core part of your product. Had Apple made a major redesign of its Compass or Calculator apps, there would probably be little mention by customers. Maps are such a highly used and important part of any smartphone, however, that extra caution is required. For B2B marketers, evaluate the importance of redesigned features in the overall value proposition. The more central the redesigned feature is to the core value that the product provides, the more you need to tread carefully.
  • Make your prelaunch message match what you deliver. I'm not accusing Apple of false advertising, but because it was boasting so much about the improvements in their Maps, the omissions were especially surprising. Customer expectations were incredibly high, so any mistakes received extra scrutiny. B2B marketers need to set expectations appropriately, especially with existing customers. The old adage "under-promise and over-deliver" may be appropriate.
  • Provide a transition. One reason early adopters are upset is that there is no way to go back to the previous version of Maps. Apple no doubt did this intentionally, but in B2B markets it may be appropriate to provide a less disruptive transition. Allow time for old and new versions of products to overlap, so customers feel comfortable with the new version.
  • Prepare a rapid response team following any major product launch. You can bet there is a huge Apple engineering team now working overtime to quickly address bugs and make the most crucial improvements, as well as a team focused on monitoring reaction from analysts and social media and handling the public response. In advance of a product launch, B2B marketers and product managers should have a rapid response team in place that is fully prepared to address any major issues immediately following the launch.


Jeff Lash

Jeff Lash is a VP, Group Director who leads the SiriusDecisions Product Management Research Service. He is a a recognized thought leader in product management with over 20 years of experience in product management as well as related areas including user experience, product development and product marketing. Follow Jeff on Twitter at @jefflash.
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