Apple cans another executive over maps – as iPhone 5 sales soar

November 27, 2012, 3:51 PM

A divergent set of news items emerged on Tuesday with Apple Inc. AAPL  firing another high-level executive over its disappointing new mapping application launched with the iPhone 5 – at the same time that data emerged showing the new smartphone booming in sales and helping the company regain ground against the rival Android platform.

It remains unclear whether sales of the iPhone 5 would have been even bigger without the flubbed mapping software, or if consumers ignored the groundswell of media reports about the application’s flaws and bought the new smartphone anyway.

On Tuesday afternoon, the AllThingsD technology blog reported that Apple has fired Rich Williamson, who oversaw development of the mapping software. This news comes a month after the company announced the surprise departure of Scott Forstall, the senior vice president who oversaw the entire iOS line and reportedly clashed frequently with other high-ranking executives. Subsequent reports had Forstall’s refusal to sign a public apology for the embarrassing Apple Maps launch as the final straw in his dismissal, with CEO Tim Cook signing the statement instead.

However, another piece of data on Tuesday suggests the iPhone 5 has been selling well despite the maps controversy. According to market research firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, sales of the iPhone 5 drove Apple’s iOS platform to a 48% share of the U.S. smartphone market — overtaking Google’s GOOG  Android platform, which had a share of 47% for the three-month period ended Oct. 28. The iPhone 5 went on sale on Sept. 21.

“The last time we saw iOS overtake Android in the US was when the iPhone 4S was released and Apple managed to retain its lead for three consecutive periods,” wrote Kantar analyst Dominic Sunnebo in a statement.

The Kantar report did not estimate unit sales of the iPhone 5. Apple will issue its report for the December quarter sometime in late January.

– Dan Gallagher

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