Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S continues to rule the roost at all the major U.S. carriers that have contracts to sell the fast-selling smartphone, ahead of both Samsung and HTC, according to a report released by Canaccord Genuity.  Checks performed by analysts at Canaccord showed that the iPhone 4S was the best-selling smartphone for March at all the three top U.S. carriers, AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint (NYSE:S), for six consecutive months since launch. The iPhone 4S was launched in October to a reception that helped it realize sales of over 4 million units in the debut weekend itself and there has been no looking back ever since.
Apple may cede top spot to Samsung; But China holds the key
The seesaw that we have seen in the last few quarters with both Apple and Samsung vying for the top spot in the global smartphone market looks set to continue this quarter as well. Samsung, with its myriad choice of smartphones, is likely to take back the top spot from Apple this quarter after the iPhone 4S had torpedoed Apple ahead of the former in the previous quarter. However, the fact that the iPhone 4S is still managing to hold its own even six quarters after launch in a market where new Android models are released every month is a great testimony to the immense popularity that the smartphone enjoys.
The smartphone market is set to grow in leaps and bounds in the coming years, especially in the emerging markets such as China where the total mobile subscriber base crossed the one billion mark recently. At about 14%, China’s 3G penetration levels are still low but growing at healthy rates. This gives Apple a huge market to target with its popular 3G-capable iPhone. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has emphasized on the growth potential that China holds for the company and has even even visited China recently. The iPhone 4S has been launched on China Unicom and China Telecom already and a deal with China Mobile looks likely when the iPhone 5 is launched. (see Qualcomm Paves the Way for an Apple-China Mobile iPhone Deal)
The launch of an LTE-capable iPhone 5 should act as a big boost to sales in the U.S., where carriers are increasingly looking to recoup their investments on LTE deployment through the sale of compatible smartphones. The iPhone alone accounts for over 50% of our $550 price estimate for Apple. So, market share gains in this division alone should help Apple more than for any other division. We expect the iPhone to have around 7% market share in the global phone market by the end of 2012, and estimate it to increase to about 13% by 2015.
Tweak the forecast line in the chart above and see the impact of iPhone’s market share on Apple’s price estimate.Notes:
- iPhone 4S remains best-selling U.S. smartphone in March, Samsung gains share, BGR.com, April 2nd, 2012 [↩]