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Apple Reaches Global Smartphone Summit

Apple Reaches Global Smartphone Summit

Apple has climbed onto the top perch in the global smartphone market and is sitting pretty, although its competitors will likely do their best to knock it down a peg. Samsung has a strong wind behind its back, and good give Apple a serious run. Meanwhile, Nokia and RIM have faltered badly, but both companies are scrambling to regroup and may be able to offer serious competition in the not-too-distant future.

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
08/08/11 5:00 AM PT

Apple is now the world's largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, according to new IDC statistics. Its iPhone accounted for 19.1 percent -- or 20.3 million -- of the 106.5 million devices shipped around the world during the second quarter.

Following Apple is Samsung, with 16.2 percent of global shipments, and then Nokia, with 15.7 percent. Nokia held the top spot a mere year ago.

RIM and HTC brought up the rear.

Samsung Nipping at Apple's Heels

Apple's dominance is by no means secure, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas told MacNewsWorld. While the iPhone is clearly very popular, Samsung could easily minimize the gap between the companies with a few well-placed strategic moves.

Samsung "has a broad and deep portfolio with a strong brand," he noted, "and from a quality point of view, no one complains about its devices."

Also -- and this will perhaps be key to Samsung's success in any head-to-head competition with Apple -- it is going into the mass market, said Llamas.

Indeed, Samsung's momentum is strong now, perhaps even stronger than Apple's, based on IDC's figures.

Apple's rate of growth in terms of global market share was 141.7 percent, compared with the same period last year. Samsung's was 380.6 percent.

Whither the Competition?

Though lagging, Nokia is a company in transition. Until it solidifies its management and product strategy, it is difficult to say what the company needs to do to regain its momentum, Llamas pointed out.

The key to RIM's resurgence will be in the overseas markets, he continued. "RIM's value proposition is its messaging platform, a technology that is very popular overseas."

What RIM needs to do is develop more stickiness around its platform and add some sex appeal to its devices, which are typically called sleek or cool -- but never sexy, observed Llamas.

"There's a difference," he remarked.

Apple's Advantages

From another perspective, what Apple's competitors do isn't as significant as Apple's clear advantages in the market right now, Azita Arvani of the Arvani Group told MacNewsWorld.

"There are three main reasons why Apple did so well in the quarter," she said. "It had an impressive expansion of carriers and geographies -- 42 new carriers and 15 new countries."

Its China operations are doing well, having posted US$3.8 billion in revenue, and Apple store revenues in general were up 10 percent year over year, she noted. The company also plans to add an additional 30 new stores.

A General Road Map

If any manufacturer is going to overtake Apple, it will need to focus on the areas where Apple is weak, said Llamas. That would be the mass market, which Apple has traditionally shunned.

"Feature phones are dropping in popularity, yes, but not everyone wants a high-end smartphone device right off the bat," noted Llamas.

There is strong demand for midpriced smart devices, he said.

At the same time, a manufacturer will have to compete against Apple's strengths.

"It will have to have something for the high end of the market," said Llamas, "and a broad and deep portfolio would help tremendously."


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