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Apple Maps snafu isn't hurting iPhone 5 sales, say analysts

Concerns over the buggy app aren't affecting demand for the new iPhone, say Apple analysts Shaw Wu and Gene Munster.

Apple's Maps app.
Apple's Maps app.
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Sales of the iPhone 5 have been unfazed by the Apps Maps debacle, according to analysts.

Demand for the new phone apparently continues to run high, as supply-chain manufacturing plans remain unchanged, says Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. Apple still estimates a ship time of three to four weeks for the iPhone 5.

Complaints over the many mistakes in Apple Maps have surfaced since the app debuted two weeks ago. But Wu sees this as a short-term problem, and one that may have been unavoidable.

Since Maps is software-based, the analyst is confident that Apple will make the program "more powerful and refined" over time. Google Maps has been touted as a better solution, especially since it was kicked out to make room for Apple Maps. But Google's product had its own growing pains, Wu noted.

"People forget that Google Maps started out inferior to Yahoo Maps and Mapquest," the analyst said in a research note out yesterday. "From our understanding, Apple had no choice but to produce its own Maps as Google wanted to keep turn-by-turn navigation unique to Android. We see this as short-term pain for longer-term gain."

Apple and Google reportedly argued over spoken turn-by-turn directions. Apple wanted that feature in Google's iOS app, but Google was keen to keep it solely on Android devices.

Google also wanted more branding in the iOS app, as well as the inclusion of other services such its friend-finding Latitude feature. Those suggestions apparently didn't go over too well with Apple, prompting the company to build its own Maps app and release it before it was ready.

Wu also feels that Apple made the right move by admitting its mistake with the Maps app and pointing people to alternate third-party apps.

"At the end of the day, Apple's goal is to produce the best user experience possible and as a leading platform, third-party support is essential," Wu said.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster also continues to see strong iPhone 5 demand, noting that consumers don't seem that worried about the flaws in the Maps app.

"Consumer sentiment on the iPhone remains high despite reported issues with Apple Maps, which we believe suggests that the Maps product is not causing a user backlash," the analyst said in an investors note released Friday.

Munster projects iPhone 5 sales of 49 million for the current quarter.