Apple stumbles – so what?

Apple’s flawed Maps service isn’t the company’s first stuff up. Or the last. It is not a turning point – at least not in itself – and it isn’t a symptom of a rudderless ship now company founder Steve Jobs is out of the picture.

It is just a stumble.

In 2010 Steve Jobs was still in charge when iPhone 4 users began reporting signal strength problems if they touched their phone in certain places. Jobs called the incident antenna-gate and swiftly called a press conference to hose down a looming consumer backlash.

CEO Tim Cook took a leaf out of Jobs’ book. He publicly apologised to customers. Unusually for Apple, Cook suggested they might try using rival services, like Google Maps which was standard on iPhones and iPads until a little over a week ago.

Apple’s investors and the analysts following the company’s shares are not worried. At first the company’s shares climbed to an all-time high above the US$700 mark. Since then they’ve dropped back.

Let’s put this in perspective. Analysts still have the company marked as a “buy” and the company shares are up almost 70% since the start of the year.

Investors are more concerned about supply chain issues, scuff marks on brand new phones and the strength of competition from Android phones, especially the latest Samsung Galaxy models.

Eventually Apple will peak and slip into some form of decline. Old hands will remember how IBM and Microsoft each looked invulnerable in the past only to fall from the industry leadership position. That process may already be underway. Either way, the problem with the Maps app is what engineers call random noise.