Apple widens lead in US smartphone market as iPhone nears 40% share

Looking at tech news headlines from the past few months, you’d think Apple was in trouble. And not just “we had an off quarter” trouble, but “is Apple the new Research in Motion” trouble. Some folks even think Tim Cook could lose his job.

But looking at the bare numbers seems to suggest the exact opposite. The company just reported a record-breaking quarter. It has more than $130 billion in cash. And according to a new report, it has nearly 40% of the US smartphone market…

Marketing research firm comScore is out with its rolling monthly report—which measures the mobile device landscape in the US—this afternoon, and the results may surprise you: Apple is dominating the field right now with 39% of US smartphones.

comscore march 13

That’s nearly double the share of its closest competitor, Samsung, who accounted for 21% of the market last quarter. And the usual suspects—HTC, Motorola and LG—took the last 3 spots with 9%, 8.5%, and 6.8% respectively. All down since the last report.

Of course, Apple doesn’t enjoy this type of success everywhere. Major markets like China and India, where prepaid plans are predominate, are still run by cheaper handsets. And that’s one of the main reasons why folks are calling for a budget iPhone.

But here in the US, Apple’s handsets are clearly still dominating. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to stop anytime soon. The Cupertino company is expected to debut its next-generation flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5S, in the next few months.

Apple widens U.S. lead over Samsung, makes ground on Google!

Apple iPhone 5

Research firm comScore reported Thursday that a survey of of the United States market for smartphones during the month of February 2013 has revealed Apple’s iPhone widening its lead over second-ranked Samsung, which went up one percentage point to grab a 21.3 percent share of US-owned smartphones during the three month average period ending February 2013. In other words and in another data point proving Apple doomsayers need to re-run their spreadsheets!

During the same timeframe, Apple’s has gone up from 35.9 percent in November 2012 to 38.9 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers in February 2013, an increase of 3.9 percentage points. The good news doesn’t stop here: Apple’s iOS mobile operating system which powers all iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices, increased 3.9 percentage points to 38.9 percent, matching Apple’s aforementioned smartphone devices share.

comScore (US smartphone vendors, 201302)

Google’s Android platform, available on numerous devices from dozens of manufacturers, still ranked as the top smartphone platform with a healthy 51.7 percent market share in February 2013, but it dropped two percentage points from 53.7 percent market share in November 2012…

Per comScore data, BlackBerry ranked third with 5.4 percent in mobile OS share while Microsoft (3.2 percent) and Symbian (0.5 percent) continue to be rounding errors.

According to independent analyst Horace Dediu, the numbers don’t mean people are abandoning Android. “To be clear, Android is not losing users, but they are gaining far fewer than iOS,” he wrote on Twitter.

US mobile platform net user gains (Asymco, comScore February 2013)

In terms of top smartphone vendors, in addition to the #1 Apple (38.9 percent) and #2 Samsung (21.3 percent), HTC came in third with a single-digit share of 9.3 percent, while Google-owned Motorola and LG rounded up the top five list with their respective 8.4 percent and 6.8 percent share.

All told, researchers estimate that the United States had some 133.7 million smartphone owners. Growth, however, is notably slowing and was pegged at an estimated eight percent compared to comScore’s November 2012 data.

comScore (US mobile OS share, 201302)

The smartphone industry appears to be saturated elsewhere as well, with today’s news of France Telecom complaining about a slowdown European carriers are feeling over belt-tightening amid the continued fragility of the economy there.

CEO Stephane Richard, who runs France Telecom, warns “there are fewer early adopters”so selling a phone for $600 is “getting more and more difficult.”

“Customers are more focused on price,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Except for a few hundred thousand people who will buy the latest iPhone – except for that category of people – the majority of the market will be difficult.”

US Smartphone adoption (Asymco 001, February 2013, comScore data)
US smartphone penetration rate chart via Asymco.

comScore data highlights his point: the U.S. smartphone market is obviously peaking with a 57 percent mobile market penetration, although we’re obviously still far from the saturation point as the remaining 43 percent non-smartphone owners upgrade to their first smart device.

Apple’s answer to the Galaxy S4: There’s iPhone, And then there’s everything else.

There's iPhone. And then there's everything else.

Reluctant to sit by the sideline, while Samsung is making home-runs with the Galaxy S4, Apple has launched a new ad campaign, highlighting the iPhone 5′s key differentiating features.

This time, Apple has chosen to make a dedicated web page rather than launching a new TV ad. That’s probably due to the fact that it wouldn’t be able to fit all the information in just 30 seconds.

But before bragging about its iPhone 5, Apple points out that it has won eight consecutive J.D. Power and Associates awards for customer satisfaction. Next, the marketing team from Cupertino goes on to saying that “has been meticulously considered and refined”

The Retina display is next on the feature list.

“Only iPhone has the Retina display.”

If Retina means a specific screen pixel density, we agree. Latest droids have higher pixel density than the iPhone’s Retina, so in a way… the iPhone 5 is the last of the flagships to have that low pixel density.

The Retina display on iPhone ushered in the era of super-high-resolution displays. Its pixel density is so high, your eye can’t distinguish individual pixels. The images and words are amazingly vivid and crisp. Everything just looks so real. In fact, once you see a Retina display, you’re never satisfied with anything less. Yet it remains a feature found only on iPhone and other Apple products.

The rest of the stuff Apple touts as best-in-class are the performance of Apple A6 chip, the iPhone 5 battery efficiency, the widespread LTE support, the user-friendliness of iOS 6 and Safari, as well as the iPhone 5′s spectacular camera. Mind you, most of these self-pats on the back are well deserved.

Apple joins HTC in attacking Samsung after the Koreans unveiled the Galaxy S4. Unlike HTC however, Apple’s approach is more positive and dare I say, mature.

The Galaxy S4 is due to hit stores by the end of April, so we’ll see if it’ll sell like hot cake, justifying the anxiety of its rivals.

See it All Here.

Apple posts record breaking financial results for Q1 2013 and Shares fall nearly 10%!

Shares of Apple  tumbled sharply in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company reported quarterly iPhone sales that just missed Wall Street estimates.

Revenue of $54.5 billion was up 18% from a year earlier but also about $230 million less than expected. Earnings of $13.81 a share were down 6 cents from a year earlier but ahead of the Street estimate of $13.44.

The company said it sold 47 million iPhones in its fiscal first quarter, up 29% from a year earlier but down slightly from Street estimates of sales of 48 million units and hopes for sales of 50 million units.

Shares were down $50.52, or 9.8%, to $463.49 at the end of after-hours trading; it had traded as low as $457.30. It will weigh on markets on Thursday. Apple hasn’t closed below $460 since Feb. 3, 2012. The stock had closed at $514.17, up $9.40, in regular trading.

With Wednesday’s close, the shares were down 26.7% from their closing high of $702.10 in September. Some analysts see the stock headed sharply lower. Jeff Gundlach of DoubleLine Capital told CNBC that the shares could hit $425.

The big question in the report was iPhone sales, which accounted for 56% of total revenue. Reports had suggested sales had not been as robust as expected, perhaps as few as 44 million sold.

Sales were better than that. In fact, those 47.8 million units sold were a record. Traders, however, had hoped for more.

There were questions about whether Apple could get the phones produced fast enough. In addition, there were worries that the smartphone market was getting saturated, thanks to new devices hitting markets worldwide. Samsung has emerged as an intense competitor.

At the same time, Apple said it sold 22.9 million iPad tablets, up nearly 48.7% from a year earlier and 34% from the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in September. But iPad Mini sales could have been much stronger except for problems getting them produced.

Meanwhile, sales of Macintosh computers were down 21.1% from a year earlier. Manufacturing constraints and cannibalization of sales by the iPad kept sales down, CEO Tim Cook said on the company’s conference call.

Apple's first quarter numbers - Look out below! Apple is down $55 after-hours as earnings disappoint

The iPad has also hurt sales of low-end computers that use the Microsoft  Windows operating system. Microsoft, the publisher of MSN Money, reports results after Thursday’s close.

Sales of iPod music players were off 17.5%.

Apple expects $41 billion to $43 billion in revenue in the fiscal second quarter and a gross margin of 37.5% to 38.5%. The margin, a key profitability measure, was 38.6% in the first quarter.

Apple’s board declared a cash dividend of $2.65 a share payable Feb. 14 to shareholders of record on Feb. 11. The dividend rate was unchanged.

The earnings came after what had been a decent day for stocks. The Dow Jones industrials and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index  closed at five-year highs. The Dow was up 67 points to 13,779, its best finish since Oct. 18, 2007. The S&P 500, up 2 points to 1,495, had its best close since Nov. 6, 2007.

Samsung increases lead as top US mobile device maker, Apple still gaining, everyone else flailing!

Samsung is still the top mobile OEM in the US, although Apple is very slowly trying to catch up. Rounding out the top five are LG, Motorola, and HTC, all of which continue to lose market share.

The story is similar in the platform space: Google is first courtesy of Android, Apple is second with iOS, but the roles are slightly reversed as Android has grown more than iOS recently. Again, rounding out the top five are RIM, Microsoft, and Symbian, which all continue to lose share.

The latest data comes from comScore, which as usual surveyed over 30,000 mobile subscribers in the US. The analytics firm says 123.3 Americans owned smartphones (53 percent mobile market penetration) in November, up 6 percent since August.

Between those two months, here is how the top five mobile OEMs have fared:

comscore november 2012 Samsung increases lead as top US mobile device maker, Apple still gaining, everyone else flailing

As you can see, Samsung gained 1.2 percentage points from 25.7 percent to 26.9 percent while Apple jumped 1.4 percentage points from 17.1 percent to 18.5 percent. LG fell to 17.5 percent, Motorola dropped to 10.4 percent, and HTC was down to 5.9 percent.

In fact, Samsung and Apple gained a combined 2.6 percentage points while the other three lost 1.9 percentage points together. This means that the duo are even stealing share from OEMs not in the top five.

Last month, we noted that Apple had passed LG, and it looks like the things are going to stay that way. We noted that the iPhone 5 helped put Apple ahead, and that if Google can get enough Nexus 4s to customers, LG could take silver again, but so far, no dice.

Yet even if Google fails with the Nexus 4, it is still doing phenomenally well on the software side:

comscore november 2012 os Samsung increases lead as top US mobile device maker, Apple still gaining, everyone else flailing

Apple may be slowly gaining on Samsung in the mobile OEM space, but Android is ahead and growing faster overall when compared to iOS. Google gained 1.1 percentage points between August and November (up from 52.6 percent to 53.7 percent) to further pull ahead in first place. Apple meanwhile increased its share by 0.7 percentage points (moving from 34.3 percent to 35.0 percent).

Once again, RIM was the biggest loser, dropping like a rock as it fell 1.0 percentage points (from 8.3 percent to 7.3 percent). Microsoft lost 0.6 percentage points, despite its Windows Phone push, while Symbian lost 0.2 percentage points, which is to be expected.

Again looking at the winners and losers, Google and Apple gained a combined 1.8 percentage points, while the other three lost the exact same amount. In other words, there’s nobody outside the top five that is making big moves. We are really in a duopoly when it comes to mobile operating systems.