For most analysts blow-out sales of the iPhone 5 are pretty much a foregone conclusion.But, for Stephen Baker at NPD there’s a possibility the iPhone 5 sales don’t blow the world away. There’s a chance iPhone 5 sales just blow, relative to expectations.
Hey, someone has to be (slightly) bearish. Here’s how Apple could come up short, according to Baker.
Unlike the iPhone 4, or the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 is going to be released into a “mature” smartphone market. In the U.S., Q2 growth for smartphones was only 9%, notes Baker. And that growth came from prepaid phones. Therefore, Apple isn’t going to be able to just sell to a huge audience of new smartphone buyers.
Further, Apple and Samsung now control 50% of the smartphone market in the U.S. They’ve gained that share beating up on companies like RIMM, Palm, and Microsoft’s partners. Now that those weaklings are out of the picture, Apple is going to have to beat Samsung and Android, which is much stiffer competition.
Apple is also going to see a different carrier environment this time. With the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, it launched on Verizon and Sprint, landing new customers that had been waiting for the phone. There won’t be a huge new customer base waiting for iPhones at those carriers.
In other words, the low-hanging fruits are all but gone. Apple is going to have to work harder to get new customers.
While Baker has laid out a pretty good bear case, he ends it by saying, “Apple will have a highly successful launch, of that there can be no doubt, but the inevitability of easy market share gains in the U.S. is not quite so apparent this time around, as it has been in the past.”
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