This is a riot. "They had months to fix problems," eh? I don't think you have the proper sense of either scale or process.
If you've worked on software you know that you're working flat out right up to the day of release and even so it's never done. And that's just on the software, not counting data. And in this case, the data was monstrous and there was no chance of there not being many thousands of points of error in the data.
As a vendor, do you hold off indefinitely while this stuff gets fixed? Or do you ship it and just keep fixing things incrementally?
With a product like a Garmin GPS incremental fixes were something of a hassle, and they charge kind of a lot of money for them (although about a quarter as much today as they did just a few years ago). Apple, though, can just fix this stuff on the fly as fast as they can and we all benefit.
Put on a little perspective: None of the mapping companies held up products until the map data was particularly polished. Apple's data is, truthfully, better than most at time of launch -- and that includes Google. You all might not remember it, but Google data was pretty darn screwy too until they started sending cars down roads to see where they really went. And Mapquest data is *still* pretty screwy in lots of places despite years and years of user-submitted correction requests. And you probably know someone who Garmin's data sent horribly awry (it routed me and my sportscar up a mountain jeep track once, heading to a point miles from the address I gave it).
Truthfully, Apple's software is about average in this respect. The maps are not that bad. The stuff that *looks* really bad is the stuff where they tried to do something relatively new and fancy. Those wavy roads and melting bridges? They were obviously trying to project satellite images onto topographical data. That looks great as long as the roads follow the topographical form. But they don't always, particularly with bridges. Google Earth does that kind of thing too (or did, I haven't looked recently).
Yea, we all miss Google's search capability, and some of the road data isn't all that accurate. On the other hand, the maps are much better visually, they load a hell of a lot faster than Google's tiles, they load a much larger area so loss of signal is a lot less troublesome, etc. It's good enough. You win some, you lose some. IMO it was definitely good enough to ship, especially when you realize that fixing it was not going to be a matter of months, but of years, no matter what Apple did. And the really egregious stuff? A lot of that has already been fixed.
I can't say I'm particularly a fan of Apple's Maps, but mostly because the traffic data is way more stale than Google's. For basic navigation it's not all that different from the data I get with Garmin or Tomtom and somehow I have survived those products.