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Do You Know The Way To San Jose? iPhone Users May Not

As I write this I'm certain that there are people at Google smiling. I'd venture to say CEO Larry Page may actually be laughing. Why? Because everyone is complaining about Apple's new mapping system — the one that replaced Google Maps in Apple's newest mobile operating system.

Apple and Google are fighting a war for dominance in the smartphone market. When Apple founder Steve Jobs was still alive he told biographer Walter Issacson that Google's Android operating system for mobile was a stolen product based on ideas from Apple. He vowed to go "thermonuclear" to destroy Google's Android.

There have been various fronts in this war — among them Apple's international patent battle against smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system.

Apple won a major battle against Samsung in a San Jose federal court last summer. It got a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung for patent infringement. (It isn't over, though: Samsung is appealing.)

When Apple introduced its new mobile operating system along with the iPhone 5, no one was surprised that Apple nixed Google as its default mapping system and introduced a mapping service of its own. It's even got Siri's voice telling you which way to go.

The only problem is, she may not know where she's going. The complaints about Apple's maps have come from everywhere — from New Jersey to London. Apple fans in Tokyo and France might not even be able to see the streets of their city, let alone get the 3-D experience Apple promised.

The London Telegraph wrote that Paddington Station isn't on the map and that the town of Stratford-upon-Avon is marked as Shottery — a village to the west of Shakespeare's birthplace.

Reviews say Apple Maps is shoddy. Nilay Patel at The Verge wrote: "Apple's decision to swap out Google Maps is a rare example of the company openly placing its own interests above those of its customers."

Blog posts have appeared explaining how you can get Google Maps back on your iPhone. Will Google make that any easier? The company isn't saying, but its statement seems like a hint that something's in the works. It wrote that the "goal is to make Google Maps available to everyone who wants to use it."

But hang on, says Apple. In a statement, company spokeswoman Trudy Muller wrote: "We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better." In fact, the mapping system in the iOS 6 does get better as it gathers information from people using it. But I hope that Apple doesn't wait for us users to fix the problems.

If there is a little glee at Google over this flap, it will be short-lived. Mappageddon doesn't seem to be stopping anyone from buying the new iPhone 5. People are lining up at Apple stores across the globe to buy it.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster told Reuters: "The line for the iPhone 5 was 70 percent greater than the line for the iPhone 4S despite Apple taking two [times] as many online pre-orders."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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