Rumours of Apple’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported on information received from insiders at Japan’s Nikkei index that Apple had cut its iPhone 5 display order in half from 65 million. To analysts and critics alike this indicated disastrous news for the once-impenetrable phone manufacturer, whose stock has dropped over 30% since its all-time high last September. The problem with the reported information was its almost certain inaccuracy, and doesn’t take into account a natural weakening of consumer demand after an extremely busy holiday season.
In other words, any cuts in display orders correspond to a predictable slide in iPhone sales for the new year. Despite a rapidly-shrinking stock price, Apple is bound by law not to comment on such things; it has to wait until January 23rd to report its Q4 earnings which will, predictably, be stellar.
According to AppleInsider, a leaked document sent to investors this week cites iPhone sales of 52 million for the quarter ending December 31st. This includes all current models being sold around the world, including the discounted iPhone 4 and 4S. iPhone 5 sales are expected to be 35 million, some nine million more than all the iPhones sold in Q3. In other words, an almost-100% increase quarter-over-quarter, and a year-over-year gain of over 40% is not out of the cards, which will inevitably lead to the company’s highest-grossing quarter ever.
So why the doom and gloom? It could be that Samsung, Nokia and RIM are all bullish on their smartphone sales, or it may be attributable to a cyclical change in consumer tastes. It may be that the iPhone is no longer the “it” phone, and won’t be again until the company dramatically changes either the hardware design or the software it runs on. It’s also likely that Android as a product, and Samsung as a company, has managed to cut well into Apple’s indestructible image; there have been over 30 million Galaxy S III’s sold since its May launch, which is still lower than the number of iPhone 5’s Apple is expected to have sold in Q4 alone, but a mighty number nonetheless.
More than anything, these mammoth numbers from all camps speak to the rise of the smartphone in general, and the prospect of another healthy year in 2013 for all involved companies. Manufacturers like LG, Sony, HTC, Huawei, Nokia and RIM are aiming to take some market share away from Apple and Samsung in the coming months, but it’s a two horse race for the foreseeable future.