Maps on smartphones
The criticism heaped on Apple shows the growing importance of cartography
Update: On September 28th Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, published an open letter apologising to customers for the shortcomings of the company's maps. Mr Cook even directed users to alternative map apps, writing that they could be downloaded from Apple's App Store and that Google's and Nokia's maps were available as web apps.
OLD hands at The Economist have fond memories of Mokaris, a café near our office in St James's. There was nothing fancy about the food, the prices or the service. Mokaris closed in 2005, and Franco's, the smarter Italian restaurant next door, expanded to take over the premises. But in the parallel universe of the iPhone, hungry hacks can still enjoy an omelette and chips for around a fiver. Mokaris is still on the map-at least, the map on Apple's new mobile operating system, iOS 6.
在圣詹姆斯《经济学人》的办公室附近，有一家叫做 Mokaris 的咖啡馆。对于本报的老员工来说，这里有很多美好的回忆。这家咖啡馆的食物和服务算不上一流，但价位也不是太离谱。2005年，Mokaris 关门大吉，店面被隔壁那家较为高档的意大利餐馆 Franco's 盘了下来。但在 iPhone 所勾画出的"平行宇宙"里，本报员工若是饿了，仍然能花五英镑左右在这里享受一份煎蛋卷和一些薯条。Mokaris 还在地图上——至少，在苹果最新移动设备操作系统 iOS 6 的地图上还能找到它。
Apple's mobile maps used to be supplied by its friend-turned-archrival, Google. But this year Apple decided to put maps of its own into iOS 6, rather than be beholden to its foe. The new maps are built into the iPhone 5, which went on sale on September 21st, and appear when older devices are upgraded to iOS 6. The internet has been teeming with complaints about a lack of detail and a surfeit of errors. And unlike Google's maps, Apple's lack public-transport information.
苹果的移动设备地图应用曾经由谷歌提供（谷歌这位昔日的合作伙伴如今变成了苹果主要的竞争对手）。但今年，苹果不愿再受制于人，决定在 iOS 6里安装自主研发的地图应用。9月21日上市的 iPhone 5内嵌了新的地图应用；如果用户把老机型升级到 iOS 6系统，也可以使用它。但这种地图应用缺少详细信息而且漏洞百出，用户的抱怨声已经充斥整个网络。此外，和谷歌地图应用不同的是，苹果的地图应用并没有提供公共交通信息。
Maps are becoming important strategic terrain. They are more than an aid to getting from A to B. Apps based on location-to summon a taxi, say-need maps inside them. Digital maps can include countless layers of information, plus advertisements from which money can be made. There are thousands of indoor maps, too, of airports, department stores and so forth. Smartphones also act as sensors, reporting their whereabouts, which can be used to improve maps. According to comScore, a data firm, in August 95% of American iPhone owners and 83% of owners of smartphones with Google's Android operating system used a mobile map.
地图应用将成为智能手机行业重要的战略地带。它不仅仅是帮助用户从一地到另一地那么简单。基于定位系统的应用（比如叫出租车）需要在程序里内建地图信息。数字地图能够包含无数的信息层，生产商还可以在地图里做广告从而实现盈利。成千上万的室内地图应用也覆盖了机场、百货商店等场所。智能手机还扮演了传感器的角色，可以收集位置信息，用来完善地图应用。根据数据公司 comScore 的资料，今年八月份美国有95%的 iPhone 用户使用了移动设备地图应用；在谷歌安卓系统智能手机的用户中，这个比例也有83%。
Being chucked off the iPhone is thus a blow to Google, though it may be enjoying Apple's discomfiture. It could return by making a new maps app, which would have to be approved by Apple. Its chairman, Eric Schmidt, said on September 25th that it had "not done anything yet".
因此，尽管谷歌可能会对苹果的窘境感到窃喜，但地图应用被 iPhone 抛弃对谷歌来说的确是一记重拳。该公司可以通过发布新的地图应用来重新回到 iPhone 市场，但这必须经过苹果的批准。9月25日，谷歌董事长艾瑞克?施密特称该公司"尚未采取任何行动"。
Creating good maps demands a lot of time and money. Google has taken about eight years to build up its expertise: it has sent cars along the world's roads and maintains a fleet of aeroplanes. Nokia's mappers (who have been issuing reminders that they offer web-based maps for the iPhone) have a longer pedigree still. Apple, which has bought three mapmaking firms in the past three years and is supplied with data by TomTom, a Dutch company, has plenty of money to throw at catching up on maps, but it will take time. "Over two to three years," estimates Martin Garner of CCS Insight, a research firm, "Apple can get up to good enough."
编写优秀的地图应用需要很长的时间和大量的资金。谷歌研发了八年左右才具备这方面的专长：该公司往世界各地派遣了道路勘测车辆，并且保有一批用于地图测绘的飞机。诺基亚的地图绘制历史更是源远流长（其制图人一直在提醒用户：诺基亚为 iPhone 提供基于网页的地图应用）。苹果在过去的三年里收购了三家地图绘制公司，还有荷兰公司 TomTom 为其提供数据。要想在地图应用方面后来居上，苹果有足够的资金；但这毕竟需要时间。研究公司 CCS Insight 的 Martin Garner 估计："再过两到三年，苹果的地图应用就能达到一个不错的水准。"
Meanwhile, Apple seems to be relying on three things. The first is speedy improvement. (It is reportedly trying to hire ex-Googlers.) The second is the embedding of useful content. Its new maps have spoken turn-by-turn driving directions, which Google's version for the iPhone did not, as well as reviews from Yelp, a local-listings company that offers pretty full coverage of eateries and bars in America but much less elsewhere.
同时，苹果要想取得成功似乎还将仰赖于三个条件。其一是快速提高地图应用的质量（据说苹果在试图雇佣谷歌前员工）。其二是在地图应用里植入实用内容。苹果新的地图应用拥有语音智能导航系统（谷歌为 iPhone 提供的地图应用里没有这一功能），同时还有 Yelp 公司提供的点评功能（Yelp 是一家本地上市公司，为用户提供很全面的美国餐饮信息；但相比之下，其他地区的此类信息却少的可怜）。
The third is the loyalty of Apple's fans. More than 5m iPhone 5s were sold in the first three days. Although some analysts had expected more, that still beat the previous version, the 4S, by 1m.
其三就是苹果拥趸的忠诚性。iPhone 5 发布不到三天就售出了500万台以上。尽管这个数字低于某些分析人士的预期，但仍然比前一代的 iPhone 4S 多出了100万台。
Under the late Steve Jobs Apple paid fanatical attention to detail, so it is remarkable that its maps should have come up so short. But polishing its hardware was one thing; the struggle with maps "has been the first really obvious head-butting of the wall," says Carolina Milanesi of Gartner, another research firm. Past perfectionism over devices has won it time to improve its maps. In a market in which brands can fall fast, that is a rare luxury.
已故的史蒂夫?乔布斯执掌苹果时，该公司曾极为注重细节。因此，如今的地图应用竟然出现了这么大的缺陷不免令人吃惊。但硬件水平的提高只是一方面；在另一方面，用研究公司 Gartner 的 Carolina Milanesi 的话来说：努力改善地图应用的苹果公司"这次真的明显是在自找苦吃"。苹果对于产品的旧式完美主义为它赢得了改善地图应用的时间。在竞争激烈、淘汰迅速的市场中，时间正是极为宝贵的。