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Apple reportedly loses senior Maps engineering manager to car service Uber

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Chris Blumenberg, an engineer responsible for some of the foundational elements of Apple's mapping strategy dating to the first-generation iPhone, is said to have accepted an offer to leave Apple for transportation networking startup Uber.

Blumenberg, via Twitter
Blumenberg, via Twitter


It is still unclear exactly when Blumenberg will wrap up his duties as the person in charge of Apple's Maps Apps & Frameworks group, or what position he will take at Uber. Blumenberg's move was first reported by The Information.

Blumenberg joined Apple in 2000, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was one of the first engineers on the Safari team before moving to iOS under former boss Scott Forstall. After bringing WebKit and Safari to iOS, Blumenberg built the initial version of Maps demonstrated on stage by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the iPhone's introduction.

Most recently, Blumenberg led a team of over 40 engineers responsible for "all things related to maps client software on iOS and OS X," including the Maps app and MapKit framework. Some of that team's work may have been on display earlier Tuesday when Apple migrated its Find my iPhone beta site to a new web-based version of Apple Maps.

The reasoning behind Blumenberg's departure is not clear, though reports of turmoil in the Maps team have surfaced in recent weeks. Some insiders have cited a "failure of project managers and engineering project managers" as the reason behind a string of missed deadlines and developer turnover, though it is possible that Blumenberg simply chose to further his career elsewhere.
post #2 of 26
Ugh. All the turmoil over Apple Maps; it's really giving me the craps.
post #3 of 26

I can't see how working for Uber is a step up. At best that seems like a lateral move. It does sort of look bad for Apple having such a high level long term engineer to leave for a company like Uber. I like Uber and have used it. Their maps are pretty cool, but they are just taxi company.

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post #4 of 26
You're dropping a quote about turmoil in the Maps team, but no attribution, no link. What is this?
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

I can't see how working for Uber is a step up. At best that seems like a lateral move. It does sort of look bad for Apple having such a high level long term engineer to leave for a company like Uber. I like Uber and have used it. Their maps are pretty cool, but they are just taxi company.

It may be a problem he's socially attuned to ,or just that he's moved too high in Apple to enjoy his work, and he's realized the peter principle is affecting his life.   I've managed 20 people and hated it.   I like leading a team of 8 or less.  In most companies, 40+ people is a director, and they spend 90% of your time either meeting or managing, and 10% in 'thinking.'   If you like problem solving, the problems are different when it's management vs engineering.

 

As for über,  it may be a problem he wants to solve (realtime mapping of supply and demand of ridership/rides).

post #6 of 26

Queue all the knee-jerk conclusions based on this move. 

 

More realistically, the guy was just ready for something different. 

post #7 of 26
This guy was at Apple for 14 years. Maybe he just wanted a change? I still think Apple is more stable than some would have you believe. For all the crap given to Apple over its software redesigns we've heard very little (if anything) about turmoil in the software group. The news that HI chief Greg Christie is retiring was about it. Hardware engineering appears to be quite stable too. Obviously any big company is going to have turnover. And working at Apple is great for your resume.
post #8 of 26
I agree it all sounds good to me. Hopefully he is going to push on with Apple integration in the new company and not do a 'Nest' with his skills.
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
Google Motto "You're not the customer. You're the product."
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post #9 of 26
It's not good to stay in the same professional job for that length of time. If you want to climb the greasy pole, I reckon 4 years at the most in any one post is about right, whether you climb within the same company or a new one.
post #10 of 26
This guy was one of Scott Forstall's dudes. I'm betting all the Maps team drama is due to this guy steering the ship. If he was one of Scott's "guys" then he could give two shits about the new leadership telling him what to do, and probably had little drive to get the job done. If you factor in a ton of new staff reporting to him, that doesn't have the same mindset or "faction" as him - then you see why Maps is dick right now.

This is the same kind of bullshit that ate MS from the inside; political lackeys and drama. I'd hoped Apple was keen on avoiding it, but I'm betting it didn't with the Forstall issue. I wonder how many more are in the ship trying to drill holes in the hull.

His Path:
Safari on OS X > Forstall grabs him > Webkit on iOS > Maps 1.0 & Management > Forstall Leaves > Maps tanks.

Pretty apparent cycle of events; and only a blind person couldn't see it.
post #11 of 26

Very insightful post man!

I believe that also applies to the economy at large. 

Think about it, IMHO we have pretty much maxed out our economy. People talk about the president not doing enough for this economy but look around, what can't you really get.

But anyway, have a great day!

post #12 of 26

Think of UBER as a logistics company.  Car service is just the beginning.  Anything with dispatch and delivery is fair game.

 

And they have very few employees with a $17 billion valuation.

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by danv2 View Post

His Path:
Safari on OS X > Forstall grabs him > Webkit on iOS > Maps 1.0 & Management > Forstall Leaves > Maps tanks.

Pretty apparent cycle of events; and only a blind person couldn't see it.

Speculation. He was responsible for the first iOS Maps app which used Google Maps. That worked pretty well. Maps tanked, as you say, after management made them switch to their home grown version, not because Forstall left. Maps has only improved since Forstall's departure. But perhaps he was happier working with Google Maps and that is what Uber uses.

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post #14 of 26

Good luck to him. Apple Maps will roll on.

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GOA

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post #15 of 26

Uber is a puzzle to me. Don't see how they will continue to dodge the public utility regulations that govern every other commercial transportation business, be it taxi's, limos or busses.

 

In many ways I hope they work it out as I tend to hate the standard taxi system and given Uber's success so do a lot of other people.

post #16 of 26

Move along! Nothing to see here. Must be a very slow day today at AI. I am sure AI will now claim that APPL is down today because of this guy :-)

post #17 of 26

I hope his team can solve the problem that many Uber drivers are experiencing with the new navigation system upgrade to the Uber driver app ....

 

One feature of the app upgrade is suppose allow  Uber drivers to receive directional and voice command navigation to the riders pickup location and also to the drop-off location if input by the rider (was this by Blumeberg?)......This feature is very welcomed by Uber drivers as it allows for a more hands free and safe environment while picking up and transporting customers to their locations....

 

During the trek to pick up the customer, the navigation and voice command works flawlessly....But if the Uber rider inputs their drop-off location, many Uber drivers have reported not being able to receive the voice direction to the riders destination.....a very much needed safety feature to keep the drivers attention on the road and also preventing the use of multiple devices during each transaction.......

post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

Speculation. He was responsible for the first iOS Maps app which used Google Maps. That worked pretty well. Maps tanked, as you say, after management made them switch to their home grown version, not because Forstall left. Maps has only improved since Forstall's departure. But perhaps he was happier working with Google Maps and that is what Uber uses.

That's kind of highlighting my point though; Apple insisted on moving away from Google Maps. Forstall didn't approve of this I bet; and when he left Maps started sucking due to the switch. The two were tied intrinsically in my mind. Now, that being said, is it a fact? Nah, it is speculation, but the shoe fits pretty damn well when you line them all up. Did Maps improve on some things when Forstall left? Yes. Did core functionality; locating spots on the globe come up to par with Google Maps? No. Not at all. I don't think Blumenberg had any taste for building a new Maps app not using Google Maps; and thus the Maps team tanked into the Earth's crust.

 

I'd have rather seen him bail at the start of all this rather than after he gets a whole team of 40 people under him and it fail miserably. White flag and tap out rather than walk into a fist fight with no arms.

 

All that being said, I'm okay with not having my privacy screwed for the sake of getting directions to a shoe store, lol. I'm also okay with Maps not finding a few spots.

post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by danv2 View Post
 

 I don't think Blumenberg had any taste for building a new Maps app not using Google Maps; and thus the Maps team tanked into the Earth's crust.

That's a wild guess. For all we know Apple Maps could have been all his idea. He was responsible for MapKit which was the fundamental building block for Apple Maps. Unfortunately the final app was only half baked by the time management wanted it live.

 

Perhaps they made him director but gave him an inexperienced team, which left him with his hands tied since he was no longer the lead programmer. We just don't know. 

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post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by danv2 View Post

That's kind of highlighting my point though; Apple insisted on moving away from Google Maps. Forstall didn't approve of this I bet; and when he left Maps started sucking due to the switch.

Google-based Maps for iOS was sucking for a long time. Ads and bitmaps come to mind. This isn't hubris on Apple's part but a necessity; one they have been very swift to evolve even if we want them to move even faster.

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post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

Queue all the knee-jerk conclusions based on this move. 

More realistically, the guy was just ready for something different. 

It was because of Dr. Dre and "what his music represents."

drblank predicted this would happen. Katie Cotton was just the beginning. Even Woz left Apple because he knew Dr. Dre would join Apple 29 years later.

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post #22 of 26
The unknown is the canvas upon which we paint our biases and beliefs.

It's not a reflection of truth, it's a reflection of us.

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post #23 of 26

Makes sense, my Uber drivers never know where they're going either. /rimshot

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

The unknown is the canvas upon which we paint our biases and beliefs.

It's not a reflection of truth, it's a reflection of us.
That is a nice quote. Who said that?
Anyways, I think it is more a case of projection than anything else.
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post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

That is a nice quote. Who said that?
Anyways, I think it is more a case of projection than anything else.

I made that up. An observation from the way people handle rumors/hearsay on these forums.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastasleep View Post
 

Makes sense, my Uber drivers never know where they're going either. /rimshot


That wont change whether the Blumenberg team works/worked on the Uber mapping app or not.....no driver will ever know all locations unless they have a blueprint map "on the brain"...but at least they can make it easier and safer (less distraction) to ensure real-time voice navigation works while GOING to the "drop-off" location selected by the customer/rider..........This is a flaw that needs to be fixed in the recent Uber app upgrade........from a SAFETY perspective, you would think something is being done about it by now since the Safety Commission has been riding on Uber's backside with all of the other regulatory bureaucracy!!!

 

PS-most definitely should be an easy fix

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