In a new piece today that cites multiple current and former Apple employees as sources, Bloomberg Businessweek asks the question of whether Apple’s maps fiasco would’ve happened under deceased CEO Steve Jobs. In the course of coming up with an answer, the report reveals that Jobs had “come to loathe” Google, not only for copying iOS in developing Android, as had been revealed in his biography by Walter Isaacson, but also for “withholding” turn-by-turn voice-guided navigation from Google Maps on Apple’s mobile platform.
Jobs was the source of the Maps effort, as a result, Bloomberg’s sources say, and Scott Forstall was put in charge of the entire project. Unsurprisingly, Jobs also discussed the idea of nixing Google search from the iPhone and mobile Safari, but that idea was dropped since it was thought it would be too much for customers to handle, according to executives. But the Maps move seems to have been put into place quite a while ago, and it’s very likely the whole thing, including the scheduled timeline and even anticipated shortcomings, came from anywhere but Jobs himself.
This new report also backs up earlier claims that Apple and Google clashed over the features in Maps on iOS, and over access to the platform. And while some have suggested Apple could’ve waited longer since there was still time on the contract, Apple clearly didn’t want to be left in a position where it seemed like the move to Maps was a strategic failing forced upon it from outside forces, instead of a decision the company made to regain control over its own platform and future.
The question of whether or not Steve Jobs would’ve done something is arguably always a pretty fruitless one, but in this case, I think the Bloomberg piece should at least put an end to the debate. Not only would he have done it, he likely did, for better or for worse.