Friday, December 21, 2012

iPhone tops 53 percent sales market share in U.S., but global figures show need for cheaper iPhone

Samsung was recently crowned the top cell phone -- not just mobile phone -- maker in the world for all of 2012, toppling Nokia from the spot it owned for 14 years. IHS iSuppli also said the Korean giant has a "decisive lead" over Apple in the smartphone segment.

Things aren't so rosy for Samsung -- or Android -- in the U.S. market, but in a world that is increasingly globalized, the question arises: Does it really matter?

Kantar Worldpanel Comtech, which is a WPP division that tracks smartphone sales across several key markets on a monthly, rolling basis, released 12-week sales figures on Friday. In the U.S., the iPhone has reached its highest figure ever, with a share of 53.3 percent, up from 48.1 percent last month.

As you might expect, the introduction of the iPhone 5 has a lot to do with that. Apple is to be congratulated on that rise, and Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, said:
Apple has reached a major milestone in the US by passing the 50 percent share mark for the first time, with further gains expected to be made during December.
A gain in the U.S. was offset by a drop elsewhere, though, and those recognizing the world market will note that, in the emerging markets and the largest ones, Apple continues to trail Android.

In Europe, for example, Android has reached its highest share of sales, at 61 percent. Samsung is atop the heap for a single manufacturer. In Europe, Samsung holds a 44.3 percent share in Kantar's latest 12 week report, with Apple in second place with a 25.3 percent share.

A look at emerging markets and other key markets show Android again atop the smartphone head, with Australia, China and Brazil in the Android fold. In China and Brazil, notably, Android accounted for 72.2 percent and 60.7 percent of all sales in the last 12 weeks, respectively.

In addition, in Australia, iOS was down 5.4 percentage points, while it was down 1.6 points in Brazil to 1.6 percent. Kantar didn't have data from the prior month to compare to, but its current report showed iOS with 19.2 percent where Android holds its aforementioned 72.2 percent.

Even Windows Phone, just as with Android, with cheaper models than Apple can provide (aside from its older, obsolete models), is making inroads, with figures that might surprise many.

In Italy, for example, Windows Phone has risen nearly four times since Kantar's last report. It is now up to 11.8 percent, from 3.6 percent. iOS, on the other hand, has dropped from 21.2 percent to 20.6 percent.

The key takeaway from this should be obvious: The high price of the iPhone in many markets is a big anchor against its growth. This seems to point to one thing that has been long-rumored, a lower-cost iPhone for emerging markets.

Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen, but it was to address the smaller and cheaper Android tablets that the iPad mini was born. One Android advantage that can't be addressed by Apple, though, is selection. The sheer number of different Android form factors and models simply can't be surpassed by a single OEM (Apple).

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