FORTUNE — The assumption behind much of the nonstop coverage of Apple’s (AAPL) cartographic crisis is that the damage was entirely self-inflicted. Apple rolled its new iOS Maps app out before it was ready and its mobile users — wandering the globe without a trustworthy electronic atlas — have paid the price.
But it takes two to screw up a relationship like the one Apple had for five years with Google (GOOG) — where Apple software engineers wrote and maintained the original iPhone Maps app while Google built up its mapping database. Sorting out what role Google played in the breakup has not been easy.
The first signal out of Google after Apple’s new Maps app was released came from Brian McClendon, Google’s maps VP, who told reporters that the company was committed to putting Google Maps on every available platform. That remark was interpreted to mean that Google had submitted a new mapping app for iOS 6 and that Apple’s reviewers were sitting on it — a rumor The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple shot down with one word: “Nope.”
Meanwhile Google chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking to reporters in Tokyo Tuesday, was a study in deliberate obfuscation.
Under the headline “Google’s Schmidt Says Up to Apple to Decide on Maps App,” Bloomberg’s Teo Chian Wei reported Schmidt’s remarks like this:
“Google says Maps not waiting in wings for iPhone 5” was Reuters’ headline, based on Kevin Krolicki’s reporting from the same press conference:
The picture of Google as a passive player in a drama staged by Apple was contradicted by a report Tuesday evening by The Verge‘s Chris Ziegler:
Unlike Schmidt’s deliberately cagy remarks, Ziegler’s account of Google being taken by surprise and scrambling to respond has the ring of truth. And his version of events was confirmed early Wednesday by the
New York Times
‘ Nick Wingfield and Claire Cain Miller.
See also: Why Apple pulled the plug on Google Maps