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Apple Fires Maps Manager Richard Williamson

Bloomberg broke the news Tuesday that Richard Williamson, who oversaw the Maps team at Apple, has been fired by Senior Vice President Eddy Cue. Cue took over this responsibility last month after Scott Forstall, who oversaw all of iOS, was fired.

With the launch of iOS 6 this year, Apple replaced Google Maps with its own mapping application with data provided by TomTom. Though the application’s interface was greatly improved, the data are terrible in some places, especially outside the U.S., showing incorrect city names, bizarrely deformed roads and bridges, and just plain missing information.

The weakness of Apple Maps marred the launch of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, at least in public perception, if not in actual sales. Bloomberg reports that Cue is seeking advice from outside experts and trying to push TomTom to improve the data it provides to Apple’s service.

These growing pains are all part of Apple’s effort to make its services independent of Google – seemingly at all costs. Apple has scrapped iOS’s built-in YouTube app. It delicately works around Google to use Yelp for place searches, and Siri falls back on Google only as a last resort.

Maps are the most significant example of Apple’s determination to drive Google off the iOS home screen, but the first attempt was not good enough for the guy responsible to keep his job. While Apple regroups around Maps, Google is reportedly readying a standalone Maps app for iOS. Here’s hoping that going forward, the main consideration for both companies is the quality of the customers’ experience.

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