NEW YORK – Apple should have responded much sooner to concerns about location data stored on its iPhones even if the company didn’t have all the answers ready, marketing and crisis-management experts say.

The company took a week to deny that the phones track the precise location of their owners, as some users and privacy watchdogs had feared.

As soon as it started selling the devices, Apple should have said how it uses, or doesn’t use, location data, said Joe Marconi, a DePaul University marketing professor and author of “Crisis Marketing: When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies.”

“The whole problem could have been a non-problem if Apple had done some kind of disclosure of this in some kind of a privacy statement,” he said. “Apple customers are fiercely loyal in a way we can say few (others) are today. With that comes a responsibility.”

In a list of 10 questions and answers published Wednesday, the company explained that a data file publicized last week by security researchers doesn’t store iPhone users’ physical locations — just a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding them.

Apple said the data help phones figure out their location without having to listen for faint signals from GPS satellites.

The company did acknowledge that the data are stored for up to a year because of a software bug. It promised a fix in the coming weeks to reduce the duration of the storage.

Larry L. Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, a public relations company, said Apple should have said something sooner in some form, even if it didn’t have all the details right away.

“To me there is no excuse to stonewall, to put off facing your customers, your partners, your shareholders, your employees,” he said. “When there is a problem, or an issue has been raised, it’s so counterproductive to put off responding.”

Even a response of “I don’t know, I will get back to you” is better than none, he said.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris would not comment on why the company waited to respond.

Despite all the hoopla, Smith said he doesn’t expect Apple’s latest blunder to hurt the company in the long run.