Apple is not perfect. Even under Steve Jobs, Apple was never perfect. Just look at AntennaGate. Or the uproar over rejecting Google Voice. Or the failure of Apple TV to take off in any meaningful way. But 2012 has been especially unkind for a company trying to prove it still had that "it" factor even with the loss of its co-founder and resident mad genius. Here are five of the biggest mistakes Apple has made in the past year:
Believe it or not, Maps actually has some big improvements over Google Maps. Not only does it have hands free turn-by-turn directions powered by TomTom, but it also integrates nicely with Yelp and the traffic pins give a description of why traffic may be slow. And if Maps had been implemented in 2013, we may have been quite happy with the product, assuming the extra year in development gave Apple time to squash the multitude of bugs in the actual data powering the application. But since it was released in 2012 rather than 2013, Maps stands as perhaps the biggest mistake of the year.
2: App Store Redesign
How disliked is the new App Store? In a poll I conduced earlier this year, an overwhelming 77% of the 376 votes hated the redesign. Only 4% loved the new App Store and 10% were optimistic enough to believe it would grow on them.
The disdain for the redesign doesn't originate just from the new layout of the pages, which take a little getting used to, or the missing features, such as being unable to gift an app like we could with the old App Store. Poor performance and outright buggy behavior doesn't help the experience.
3: Lackluster iOS 6 Upgrade
Beyond the issues with Maps and the new App Store, iOS 6 was a dud compared to previous upgrades of the operating system that powers the iPad and the iPhone. While iOS 4 included folders, limited multitasking, fast app switching and a unified inbox, and iOS 5 included AirPlay Mirroring, iCloud and wireless activation, iOS 6 simply didn't include much of a punch. Even Siri, which finally came to the iPad, was limited to just iPad 3 owners even though it's inclusion on the iPad Mini proves that the iPad 2 is fully capable of utilizing it.
4: The iPad Mini Price Tag
There's one good reason for Apple's $329 price tag on the iPad Mini: it leaves plenty of room in the profit margin for Apple to include a Retina Display in the next iteration of the product. The price also leaves enough profit for Apple to make talk of the iPad Mini cannibalizing sales of its bigger brother moot.
But while the difference between $299 and $329 is only $30, the psychological difference in the mind of a shopper is huge. I can't help but think a $299 iPad would have all-but-crushed the 7-inch tablet competition and still left enough in profit for Apple to be laughing all the way to the bank.
5: Not Leaking Plans for the iPad 4
It's hard to call releasing the iPad 4 a mistake. If Apple's long term plan was to move the iPad product releases to the holiday season, which is a good way to maximize sales, releasing an iPad 4 alongside the iPad Mini wasn't a bad idea. The only other options were to wait a full 20 months between iPad releases, which not only would have bitten into profits but given Android tablets a big boost, or to split the difference with a January iPad 4 release followed by a October 2013 iPad 5 release, which would have ended up making anyone who got an iPad 3 for Christmas upset that their tablet became dated mere weeks after unwrapping it.
No, the iPad 4 wasn't a mistake. But surprising consumers with its release was a bad idea. While some in the media expected a few tweaks to the iPad 3, such as better 4G support, no one expected a "fourth generation iPad" that included an upgraded chipset that provided around twice the graphics and processing power to be released. Much like lowering the price of the original iPhone a few months after its release, this type of surprise felt like a bait-and-switch for anyone who had purchased the iPad 3 in the weeks leading up to the announcement. Apple would have been better served by letting an "unnamed source within the organization" leak this information a month before the announcement, even if such a leak would have slowed iPad 3 sales.