When the chief of the largest technology company in the world admits that their new product to compete with their rival is sub-standard, we should ask why did they launch this when it was to the detriment of their users.
The answer in this case is likely to be to win market share. There was a chance to build something either better than the competitors, or to extend on the work of the competitors. Both of these options would have been laudable and worthy of serving their customers. Instead, market share and the bottom line likely proved to be too strong a motivation and led to this and the subsequent apology.
There are examples of this type of behavior all over the Web and in commerce. Barriers are built to support the business but these barriers penalise the users. In the Apple Maps example, the Apple infrastructure had been switched to the new maps even though it didn’t work as well and their users would suffer.
Building map functionality is a foundation for many other functions. It is the basis from which other ecosystems of services and products can be controlled. This is the guiding star which Apple has followed. The quest to compete with Google necessitates that they have a foundation of a mapping infrastructure.
This then begs the title question: Should they be competing with Google and using the rules of this game, or perhaps should they be playing their own game? It seems this time they are not the game-changer.