It’s great that Apple apologized for releasing a new Maps app that disappointed its customers. But it didn’t have to. Demand for the iPhone 5 continues to surge, and according to a number of observers, Apple’s Maps app debacle hasn’t slowed it at all.
Nor will it, most likely.
Piper Jaffray analyst Eugene Munster recently surveyed 20 Apple Stores in the United States. He found iPhone 5 inventory in just four of them. Those four stores were located in smaller cities, and the few iPhone 5 units they had were for Sprint. His take on Apple’s mapping misstep? It’s not causing much user backlash. “Demand remains high,” Munster explained. “The bottom line is that consumers do not seem to be overly concerned about the shortcomings of Maps.”
Apple certainly knew this, so why apologize, particularly when such a rare and humble admission of fallibility would only draw further attention to the issue? To seize control of a media narrative run amok and to turn it into one that enhances the Apple brand that it earlier tarnished. As one source familiar with the Apple PR machine told AllThingsD, “How quickly did things go from ‘This never would have happened under Steve’ to ‘Holy shit, the CEO of the most powerful company in tech just came clean and took responsibility for a mistake? Hours, right?”
So while Apple’s maps mess was a clear embarrassment for the company, Cook’s empathetic and contrite apology — and the company’s follow through on it, pointing users to mapping alternatives — have minimized damage to the Apple brand.
“Given the insatiable demand for the iPhone 5, we do not expect the map issue to impact [demand],” said Topeka analyst Brian White. “Longer term, we believe this apology will help Apple further its brand of trust with customers and it is only a matter of time before the company delivers a great map experience.”