The Apple [AAPL] effect is hitting the smartphone business all over again, as analysts report slowing sales of devices from all vendors, including those of the present generation iPhone pending introduction of a lower-cost iPhone and the iPhone 5S. We've seen this before.
[ABOVE: Reports claim Apple intends a little rainbow iMac magic with its future iPhone mini.]
What's the chances?
Like it or lump it, Android may have the marketshare numbers, mainly by virtue of the platform driving a slew of different devices from numerous manufacturers offering low-, mid- and high-range devices. However, while the numbers may suggest an Android army is marching in the space, no single smartphone brand has the kind of mind-share enjoyed by the iPhone.
Those with memories somewhat longer than a Fox News cycle may recall as long ago as last year. They may recall the mid-summer downswing in smartphone sales across the sector as consumers saved their Bitcoins (or whatever) in expectation of a supercalifragilistic shiny and new iPhone.
Sure, the iPhone that was introduced was tarnished by the torrent of negative publicity which greeted the then flawed Apple product known as Maps, but the iPhone 5 became that quarter's biggest-selling smartphone model across the insanely lucrative Christmas quarter all the same. This generated yet another profitable quarter for Apple and its production partners, but I don't think consumers care for how much profit the corporations they purchase their gadgets from -- they just want products that deliver on their promise.
Apple's products do deliver on their promise.
Sure, you can waste your time listening to the musings of market analysts and the chatter of paid pundits pontificating against the market leader in order to look smart and clever while attempting to expunge the resentment they feel that Apple doesn't ship them a shiny new iPhone just because they have some technology column.
I'd rather take a look at sales numbers and customer satisfaction ratings, and while the mass market Apple Maps approbation managed grabbed a slice out of satisfaction ratings (presumably as millions of users got lost while trying to find that "oh-so-important" Australian desert village), all the data confirms iPhone customers loved their iPhone. Customers have loved each generation of the device.
This is what Apple has in its favor as it prepares to introduce the next-generation iPhone. This advantage is widened by reports the company also intends releasing a "cheaper" model device. That last part is important because the economic situation means consumers are even more inspired to make good purchasing decisions.
This leads me to think recent and future reports claiming flat or slow sales across the smartphone sector reflect that consumers are waiting to take a look at Apple's next releases before they invest in new products from that company or from anybody else.
Apple recognizes this, and is preparing to shore up its future iPhone releases with the Jony Ive-inspired flair it hopes to deploy within iOS 7. The company will also point to the flaws and shortcomings of the Android ecosystem, with particular focus on personal security, consumer satisfaction, fragmentation and user engagement levels.
In the run up to these introductions, it makes absolute sense to predict decline in smartphone sales across the sector.
The world is watching and waiting for the next device. Apple's challenge is to deliver a device that meets consumer expectation.
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