Apple iPhone 5 demand sets records, consumers unconcerned by Maps -- Changewave

Apple [AAPL] Maps have generated yards of criticism as competitors celebrate, Lord of the Flies style, at the iPhone 5’s cartographic calumny, but despite the predictable hoop-la of media attention, for most people “Map-gate” really doesn’t mean a thing: neither Maps nor the new Lightning connector have dampened enthusiasm meaning there’s more demand for Cupertino’s latest smartphone than for any previous edition.

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On the Map

Google chairman Schmidt stayed on message this week saying Apple should have stuck with Google Maps, and in the short term perhaps he’s correct. 

In the long term he’s attending the birth of new competition and surely recognizes Apple will eventually deliver something that competes, whether it has to beg, borrow or buy the technical expertise and data the service needs. In the real world, this author has used Apple Maps for a week in London, UK, finding them equally as inaccurate as Google Maps, -- an A-Z London guidebook beats both.

Despite the critics consumers are buying iPhone 5‘s in record quantities, according to the latest Changewave Research survey, held across 4,270 primarily North American consumers.

Despite the media attention surrounding both the Apple Maps issue and the Apple Lightning port issue, neither has had an impact on the massive numbers of buyers queuing up to buy the iPhone 5,” said Dr. Paul Carton, ChangeWave's VP of Research. “Rather, the survey results show both issues hardly rank as bumps in the road.”

Changewave asked how likely consumers were to buy an iPhone in future, confirming huge demand. 32 percent of consumers are Likely to buy and iPhone 5 in future (19 percent are Very Likely while 13 percent are Somewhat Likely to do so, the survey results show).

That’s a higher level of demand than we saw when the iPhone 4S showed itself last year.

This suggests Apple’s latest iPhone will indeed be seen as the most successful smartphone release yet.

Not bothered

As part of the survey, consumers were asked for their feedback on the two biggest criticisms of the device: Apple’s Maps app and its move to the new Lightning port for iPhones. 

Changewave asked those who’d described themselves as Likely  to purchase one of the new devices how much of a problem the new port is to them, results below:

  • Not Much of A Problem 31%
  • No Problem At All 26%
  • Somewhat Of A problem 31%
  • Very Big Problem 6%

When the company asked the same question of people who described themselves as Unlikely to purchase an iPhone 5, not one person said that decision was in reaction to the new connector.

Similar waves of real world apathy to these widely-reported “problems” when it comes to Maps. Changewave asked iPhone 5 and other iOS 6 users if they’d actually had anything like the problems that have been hitting headlines for the last few weeks. 90 percent of users said it wasn’t a problem; just 9 percent described it as a problem.

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These results show the level of criticism generated by Apple’s move to Maps has reached an insane crescendo that doesn't reflect reality. Reportage has grown so histrionic there have even been calls for the resignation of CEO Tim Cook. While it’s nice to see the independent minds of global media staying on the same page of its fantasy novel, the problems that are being so widely discussed don't appear to be impacting real Apple users to any great extent, at least according to Changewave’s real world data.

To but that claim in context, the survey also looked at the antenna issue which affected the iPhone 4. As the image below shows us, the scale of the Maps affair is not at the same level.

What about people who aren’t likely to buy an iPhone 5? Maps are bound to be part of the reason, right?

Wrong.

Zero percent of those who aren't buying an iPhone 5 decribed it as anything to do with these reported problems with Apple Maps.

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Windows open

Schmidt’s remarks to AllThingsD this week saw the Google chairman begin battening down the hatches for Microsoft’s invasion of the smartphone market with Windows 8. Schmidt refused to include that competitor within his list of big company’s vying to deliver the future networked space. To my mind this shows he’s concerned -- Microsoft still has a few cards left to play, not least its move to offer its smartphone OS to the same manufacturers currently battling Apple and each other in order to popularize Android. Take a look at HTC’s disappointing results and subsequent decision to abandon Samsung as a component supplier as a reflection of how fraught relations between Android device makers are growing.

Changewave’s survey found nearly one-in-ten consumers would be likely to acquire a Windows 8 smartphone, driven by the device’s integration with Windows apps and devices. Good news here for Samsung as it waits to see how Google will handle Motorola Mobility now it owns that firm: 51 percent of consumers who said they are Likely to purchase a Windows smartphone will buy one manufactured by Samsung, with Nokia a close second.

What does this mean? It means Schmidt’s picture of mobile being a two-horse race between Apple and Google may be correct today, but there’s a chance in a year or so that his big picture may change. 

Given RIM is preparing its bid for market relevance next year, and the levels of enthusiasm currently greeting the iPhone, it seems possible Google’s chairman recognizes Android’s percentile grip on the smartphone market will inevitably begin to deteriorate next year.

You don’t need a map, Apple's or otherwise, to predict that. 

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