Apple’s iPhone strong as industry enters replacement cycle

Android smartphone manufacturers continue their struggle for share in the value-driven market, while Apple’s iPhones 8, 8 Plus, and X maintain their position.

Apple, Android, iPhone, iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone SE

Android smartphone manufacturers continue their struggle for share in the value-driven market, while Apple’s iPhones 8, 8 Plus, and X maintain their position, claims the latest quarterly data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Apple is big in China

One of the more interesting stats in the report confirms Apple’s momentum in China, where iPhone X is not only Apple’s top performing model but the best-selling model overall. Apple’s share increased strongly to 22.1 percent.  

iPhone 8 sales marginally surpassed those of iPhone X in the U.S., as well as the top five European markets in the three months ending March 2018, the report claims — though it concedes the difference in numbers to be “marginal.”

(When reading reports claiming weak iPhone X sales as a result, it is probably best to consider the difference is likely being overblown.)

The latest data seems to show that Europe and the U.S. are moving from early adoption into a replacement cycle.

Apple is quite evidently savvy to this changing market momentum, as recent iPhone marketing campaigns have attempted to underline the many reasons Android users should migrate to iOS devices, helping sales remain steady.

The latest IDC and Strategy Analytics smartphone market reports confirm Apple’s attempt is working, pointing to a slight growth in its market share. Based on Apple’s published 52.2 million sales, the analysts estimate Cupertino caught c. 15.5 percent of the global market, up from 14.7 percent a year ago.

Android’s eternal struggle

The eternal value-driven struggle that comprises the majority of the Android market continues to grind out smaller players as larger firms battle for market share.

Samsung, Apple, and Huawei between them grabbed 71 percent of smartphone sales in Europe, but Xiaomi has quietly seized fourth position and a 4.4 percent share.

The report claims Google achieved 3.4 percent in the U.S., up from 1.7 percent a year earlier, thanks to the Pixel. ZTE’s market is declining, while Apple (up 0.1 percent) and Samsung (up 1.4 percent) maintain leadership.

All the market analysts suggest the world’s biggest smartphone vendors are Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO.

Why services matter

In the here and now, Apple’s position seems the most secure — not only does it grab the majority of sales at the high end, but it has already built a multi-billion-dollar services business around its platform.

Apple’s services segment saw an astonishing 31 percent growth in the most recent quarter, with the company on the way to achieving the $50 billion/year services business it hopes to build by 2020.

"We think slowly but surely, [Apple] is morphing into more than just an iPhone story and is displaying ability to sustain revenue growth irrespective of iPhone trajectory,” said analyst Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets.

Locked in a value-driven struggle against one another and without control of the operating system, competitors have not yet been able to match Apple’s growing services beast.

It is worth noting that Google can profitably provide services across the Android ecosystem without sharing the financial risk of hardware manufacture, though it seems likely anti-trust regulation would kick in if it attempted to do so too aggressively.

Up next ... iPhone SE

What is important to consider is that Apple’s leadership position in the smartphone sector means it holds an important place in the future economic growth of entire nations, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“The new tech cycle ... critically depends on the release dates of iPhones, as Apple Inc. flagship models drive global demand,” the IMF wrote.

In order to propel further growth, Apple is thought to be about to introduce a second-generation iPhone SE, enabling it to meet the needs of a much wider market, particularly in key developing economies.

The device is thought to be one of the first to see manufacture in India, a key target market for Apple in which it recently set a new first-half record.

While we don’t know how the cards will fall, Apple’s success in building new business around its platforms, its strategy to continue widening its market, and its determination to go for the replacement cycle puts it in a strong market position moving forward.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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