Mike Judge’s great HBO comedy Silicon Valley has featured some fantastic references to Apple in the past — including a tongue-in-cheek dismissal of Steve Jobs as someone who “didn’t even code” and two not-so-obvious Apple logos that pop up during the show’s opening.
The most recent episode, entitled “Homicide,” contained one more namecheck of everyone’s favorite Cupertino company, but it’s unlikely to be a reference that got Tim Cook guffawing in front of his TV at home — since it skewered one of the most notorious Apple products of all time.
The episode in question dealt with a disastrous showing for Hooli’s Nucleus compression software as it screws up a UFC livestream, triggering Gavin Belson to have the following exchange:
“How bad is this, be honest? Is this Windows Vista bad? It’s not iPhone 4 bad, is it? Fuck. Don’t tell me this is Zune bad.”
“I’m sorry Gavin. It’s Apple Maps bad.”
Apple Maps was, of course, one of the most notorious botches in Apple history. The mapping service’s sins ran the gamut from depicting horribly warped landscapes to directing folks visiting the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, to drive across one of the taxiways.
Apple Maps was initially so bad, in fact, that Cook was forced to apologize and tell Apple users to download Google Maps instead.
To be fair, Apple has made considerable advances since then. The company has started updating Apple Maps every day, introduced features like Flyover, and published a number of fascinating patents — like one designed to make navigation software more humanlike by referencing landmarks and street signs instead of just road names.
Over the weekend it was announced that Apple has snapped up Coherent Navigation, a company that helped develop a form of ultra-detailed GPS that is accurate within centimeters as opposed to the usual meters.
Today, the general consensus among tech users is that Apple Maps is far from a debacle. However, this week’s Silicon Valley shows just how closely the name is equated with “disaster” in the mind of the greater public.
And while some will argue that no publicity is bad publicity, I’d expect very few people at Apple would agree in this instance.
It was funny, though.