Monday, January 14, 2013

iPhone 5 component orders dip, pointing to weaker-than-expected demand

Apple has more than 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, according to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel Comtech, but Samsung still rules globally, and in cell phones, not just smartphones. Is the iPhone dominance U.S.-only? The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Apple has cut iPhone parts orders due to lower-than-expected iPhone 5 demand.

With that report, Apple's stock results on the same day, Jan. 14, were as you might expect. Apple shares were down more than $16, flirting with $500, as noon approached on the East Coast.

According to the report, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's orders many device components have dropped significantly. As an example, orders for iPhone 5 screens for the calendar year Q1 2013 quarter have dropped to roughly half of what the company had previously planned to order, two sources said.

One of the sources added that Apple has similarly cut orders for other components. Apple's suppliers were notified in December, the sources said, though obviously the leak didn't arrive until 2013.

Component cutting moves seem to indicate that sales of the iPhone 5 haven't met Apple's expectations. That will most likely mean sales haven't met analysts expectations, either. Although the iPhone once ruled smartphones, and seems to rule in the U.S. still, Samsung has overtaken Apple globally. To be clear, Samsung is just one manufacturer, too, and Apple has to compete with numerous other Android OEMs, such as LG, HTC, Motorola, and ZTE.

In addition, other platforms may be a burden for Apple. In addition to Windows Phone 8, the newly announced Ubuntu for Android, Tizen, and -- yes -- BlackBerry 10 are coming to take pieces of Apple's pie.

According to market research firm IDC, in calendar year Q3 of 2012, Apple had 14.6 percent of global smartphone shipments, but that down from its peak of 23 percent in Q4 of 2011 and Q1 of last year. Meanwhile, Samsung saw its market share rise to 31.3 percent in Q3 of 2012, compared with 8.8 percent in Q3 of 2010.

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