What a difference a year makes.This time last year, Apple was a rocket ship crushing expectations. This year, the stock is in a tail spin, the press is out of love with Apple, and analysts think it’s getting smoked by Samsung.
Barclays analyst Ben A. Reitzes is the latest to jump on the sky-is-falling-Apple-must-do-something-to-combat-Samsung bandwagon.
In a note titled, “Samsung Momentum Begs An Answer From Apple,” Reitzes says, “we need to see Apple expand its iPhone market this year in a big way – and improve its platform in 2013,” if it wants to keep up with Samsung.
Samsung is expected to launch the S4, its flagship phone in March. It will likely go on sale in April. At the same time, Samsung is expected to lower the price of the S3, its current high-end smartphone. With the S3 turning into a mid-tier phone on price, Samsung has an opportunity to clean up in the middle and lower ends of the market, where Apple doesn’t have much of a response.
Reitzes, like most sell-side analysts, is calling for Apple to introduce a cheaper — $300-$350 without subsidy — iPhone that can compete with Samsung. All signs point to Apple finally releasing a low cost iPhone to pick up market share in developing markets this summer.
As for the other piece, Apple certainly could improve iOS. However, we’re not expecting major overhauls this year. Apple changed its iOS management at the end of 2012. We assume it will take a year or more for the major changes in style and architecture to be implemented.
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