Apple’s entry-level handset is currently the iPhone 4 at $449 from the Apple store – although you can likely find a 3GS or 3G cheaper at a retailer. You can buy a semi-decent Android smartphone for under $100. Is it a wonder that Android currently (for the 3rd Quarter of 2012) accounts for 75% of all smartphones shipped in the world while Apple are slowly losing ground?
Looking at those kinds of figures out of context can be dangerous: true, 3 out of every 4 smartphones shipped in that period run on an Android system. If we look at all smartphone shipments across the entire year, we can see Android steadily stealing the market from its competitors. IDC (International Data Corporation) have released the data concerning shares in the smartphone market, which clearly showcase Google’s growth. But look closer. from 2011’s third to fourth quarter, not only did Apple’s share overtake Symbian, we actually see a rare drop in Android sales. Why? The Apple iPhone 4S.
Will the iPhone 5 do the same this time around? I’m not so sure. The Samsung Galaxy S3 has furthered the Android-iOS divide by putting an Android flagship device in direct competition with the iPhone model of choice – something no other single, non-Apple handset has managed thus far. Heck, S3 sales rocketed following the iPhone 5 announcement – not the result Apple was expecting, I’m sure.
Yeah, the iPhone 5 sold 5 million handsets in its first weekend – it’s a great number and will do wonders for the company. Will it be enough? Probably not. With the Smartphone market steadily growing, up 45% from the third quarter of 2011, Apple can’t afford to get left behind. More and more people are adopting smartphone technology and while many of them are choosing the iPhone, many more are going for the cheaper Android options available.
So how can Apple bounce back? While Samsung are the biggest Android handset manufacturers, holding 24% of the entire smartphone market for 3Q 2012, other companies offer a whole array of viable Android options for consumers. While Google get to dominate the field with choice, Apple release one handset a year. If they really don’t want to lose out to Android, Apple are going to have to up their game.
I propose Apple put an iPhone mini in the mix. They’ve proven they know how to respond to industry threats recently what with the iPhone 5’s leap in screen size and the 7in Kindle competitor that is their iPad mini. Apple may not be renown for their competitive pricing, but they don’t like to lag behind the competition either. Samsung have done it for their Galaxy line with the Galaxy Mini 2 despite having a whole host of other options already available. There’s no reason why Apple can’t strip back the iPhone to the bare basics and offer that to smartphone newcomers.
A smaller, lighter on the specs and on the wallet, entry-level iPhone could be just the jumpstart Apple needs to really get their numbers up. If not, that 15% market share that they’re currently enjoying may just shrink further and further until it hits BlackBerry or, gasp, Symbian proportions.
Kelly Vieira writes editorial for Finder’s mobile phone comparison website MobilePhoneFinder.com.au. You can find her on her Twitter @_kellycvieira or just comment below. She gets sunburnt ridiculously easily.