Survey: Maps controversy has no impact on iPhone 5 demand

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You may not want to rely on iOS 6’s Maps application to help you find a store that’s selling the iPhone 5, but the controversial new feature isn’t stopping people from buying up Apple’s latest smartphone—at least according to one survey.

In a survey released Friday, ChangeWave Research says that the iPhone 5 is in high demand among smartphone shoppers. What’s more, the still-in-progress Maps offering that ships with Apple’s new phone isn’t much of a deterrent to people considering an iPhone 5 purchase.

In September, ChangeWave surveyed 4270 North American consumers, finding that around one-in-three of them say they’re likely to buy an iPhone 5 in the near future. Specifically, 19 percent of respondents describe themselves as very likely to buy the phone, while another 13 percent say they’re somewhat likely to buy it.

ChangeWave contrasts that with a year-ago survey it conducted for the release of the iPhone 4S. At that time, 22.5 percent of respondents said they were likely to buy that phone, with 10 percent describing themselves as very likely to buy it.

That increase demand comes despite controversy over Maps, the redesigned mapping application introduced as part of iOS 6. A replacement for the Google-built mapping application, Apple’s Maps has come under fire for its incomplete or incorrect data. Apple CEO Tim Cook has apologized for “falling short on [Apple’s] commitment” to make “world-class products that deliver the best experience to our customers.” Apple has promised that Maps will improve, particularly as more users report problems with the feature.

However users feel about Maps—and that seems to depend heavily on how accurate its maps are where you happen to be—those feelings aren’t affecting iPhone 5 demand, according to ChangeWave. Among those surveyed who said they were unlikely to buy an iPhone 5, zero percent told ChangeWave that it was because of reported problems with Maps. (The primary reason, at least according to 61 percent of those not likely to buy the new iPhone, was that they’re satisfied with their current device.)

That same ChangeWave survey also asked iPhone 5 and other iOS 6 users if they experienced a problem with Maps. Only 3 percent cited a “very big” problem while 6 percent said it was “somewhat” of a problem; 90 percent said they haven’t had any problems with Maps.

Contrast that with results of a 2010 ChangeWave survey over antenna reception issues with the iPhone 4. In that survey, 7 percent of iPhone 4 owners told ChangeWave they had a “very big problem” with the iPhone 4’s reception, while another 14 percent called it somewhat of a problem; only 64 percent of respondents said they had no problem with the iPhone 4’s antenna and dropped calls or weakened reception.

The latest ChangeWave survey also found that the iPhone 5’s new Lightning connector is doing little to dissuade people from upgrading to the new model. While 31 percent of likely iPhone 5 buyers called the new charging and data connection port somewhat of a problem and 6 percent called it a very big problem—it renders the new phone incompatible with accessories that rely on 30-pin connectors—the majority said it was either no problem at all or not much of a problem. More significant, none of the respondents who are unlikely to buy an iPhone 5 said the Lightning connector factored into their decision.

ChangeWave’s survey comes as observers are clamoring to see how strong of a debut the iPhone 5 made this fall. Apple announces its fiscal fourth quarter earnings on October 25, and those results will include some iPhone 5 sales figures. The new phone went on sale in nine countries including the U.S. on September 21 and 20 more countries the next week. Apple plans to have the iPhone 5 available in 100 countries by the end of 2012.

Apple has already unveiled sales figures for the opening weekend of the iPhone 5. It sold 5 million phones in the first three days of the iPhone 5's release.

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