It is difficult to watch the dialog of this thread as only a few of it's contributors are really on the right track. First of all, Apple Maps is an incredible first effort. The design has a monster upside that will develop very quickly. Google and Microsoft used a similar approach to get out of the gate and both, along with their own data collection efforts, are still using multiple sources to create a patchwork map. Apple was leveraged by Google to make a business decision to put Maps out with iOS 6. Knowing the effort it took for them to build their own map data base, Google thought Apple would concede and continue to use its product rather than get into that business. Steve Jobs felt his organization was being cornered. His distaste for Google and knowledge that his time on earth was limited, decided it was a challenge Apple needed to take on.
Large scale geospatial mapping is a difficult task by itself and depending on the resolution you are trying to achieve, it can get even more complex, It's not the collection side that is causing the most pain. It is the reduction piece, so that the data can be consumed, that gets the data processing players so far behind. These are massive efforts that have a huge manual component to them. Apple is trying to automate that part to the best of it's ability and they have the talent and resources to overcome the challenge better than anybody. In a very short time, their product will surpass the frontrunners and become the bar by which others will be measured.
So what's the point of all of this. The dashboard in your car is the next big thing these companies will be fighting for. It's coming faster than you think and the business potential is awesome. Why would Google be building autonomous vehicles. They have no car manufacturing capability. Your surface transportation will be sponsored by Starbucks. Who will dominate this field? Now do you understand why Apple Maps is important. Our cars will be the focus of the next "and one more thing" coming form our favorite fruit company.