There is no maps.apple.com because Apple can't get its maps act together. They have nothing good to show. The road is too steep. To duplicate what Google has done with maps requires becoming another Google, burning hundreds of millions crawling the world's roads, memorizing every wi-fi hot spot there is, doing whatever it is that Google does to get traffic info... And much more.
It's clear that Apple lost an enormous amount of momentum with with both the maps fail and the iPhone 5, which is crippled on the non-trivial map front, and not all that much better than the last two revs of the phone. It's not a got-to-have product, as was the iPhone 4 and to a lesser extent (Siri) the iPhone 4s. Meanwhile an army of Androids marches against it, each getting better and better and better.
Apple burned a big bridge Ñ with me and countless others Ñ when it moved from a Google-based Maps app on iOS to its own royally broken substitute. Maps is an alpha app with me, and with our family. We travel a lot, and rely on that app almost constantly. Turning http://maps.google.com into an app-like page is at best only place-holder until Google quits dragging its feet and provides iOS with a proper Maps app. Given Google's passive-aggressive history toward Apple and iOS on the matter, I'm not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, it is beyond inexcusable that Apple still doesn't show a single subway station in New York City. (I assume the same is true in Paris and London Ñ the last two cities where the new Apple Maps app failed me Ñ but I haven't checked.) And the absence of all but the most minimal traffic information is, comparatively speaking, pathetic.
But in failure lies opportunity. Since Apple can't make Maps work by themselves, they should enlist help from the long tail. I see no alternative. Simply put,the only way Apple will ever offer maps on iOS that equal or better those on Google/Android or Microsoft/Nokia/Navteq is by crowd-sourcing the required data. Being closed isn't working, and may never work. Not for this.
Of course, this may all be moot if apps developers do a better job than Apple anyway. Says here that Nokia is prepping an iOS maps app. The implication is not that Nokia wants to help Apple users, but that it thinks it has a better maps app than Google. Hope that's true.
Even so, crowdsourcing could still be a big advantage for Apple, because people are everywhere, and care about geo data enormously. Enlisting their help, for making and correcting maps, could go a long way both toward making better maps and building deeper loyalty.