Apple Maps Debacle and Minimum Viable Products

I am taking a quick creative break from editing The Lean Entrepreneur, and as I poke my head into my Twitter stream, I invariably come across tweets drawing an equivalency between the Apple Maps debacle and the concept of Minimum Viable Products.

This is a mistake, one that demonstrates misunderstanding of the term.

A Minimum Viable Product is a triad.  It is composed of:

  • The hypothesis/objective you are trying to learn
  • from the target market segment you are trying to learn about
  • and the form it takes to achieve that learning
These three have to align to be useful.  Otherwise, you are simply “throwing shit against the wall.”


It cannot be belabored:  the purpose is to learn some unknown specific thing from some specific group. This is because you have no reliable data about your objective, hence, you are creating experiments to “manufacture” the relevant data.


If you do have good data about the triad I listed above, then you shouldn’t be building MVPs. You should be building stuff that your market segments demands.


It should be clear that Apple has petabytes of data about how, why and who used Google Maps on the iPhone.


Pulling a good product for strategic reasons, and substituting it with a painfully, substandard product does not a  Minimum Viable Product make.  This is simply poor and sloppy execution of sustaining innovation.  Tim Cook has admitted as much, while Apple apologists have been providing covering fire with their convoluted “Apple is playing 17 dimensional chess on all of us and we cannot begin to comprehend their brilliant strategy” arguments.


Yeah, right. Meanwhile, people, like me, who like Apple products, are’t super-thrilled about using a device that become less useful, in my case, overnight.    Again, that is not an MVP, so don’t confused the two.


Here’s hoping my iPhone regains some its recently lost utility very quickly.


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