iPhone 5c not expected to add much shipment momentum, says research firm -->
Market research firm IHS has chosen not to upgrade its forecast of overall Apple iPhone shipments in the second half of 2013. IHS at this time is maintaining its prediction of 86.1 million iPhone shipments in the second half, up 25% from 68.7 million in the first half and a 15% increase from 61.1 million in the first half of 2012.
Apple on September 10 unveiled two new iPhone models - flagship iPhone 5s and lower-priced iPhone 5c. The new iPhone 5s features a 64-bit desktop-class A7 chip, while the less-expensive 5c comes with an A6 processor, according to Apple. Both devices run the improved iOS 7 mobile operating system.
"At an unsubsidized cost of US$549, the iPhone 5c remains at the same price point as the existing mid-range model in Apple's smartphone line, the iPhone 4S," said Francis Sideco, director for consumer electronics and communications technologies at IHS. "In light of this pricing, the 5c appears to be a midrange product that cannot significantly expand the available market for the iPhone line to lower-income buyers. As a result, the arrival of the 5c will not spur a major increase in iPhone sales in the second half of 2013 compared to previous expectations."
IHS forecast that Apple will ship 158.9 million iPhones in 2013, compared to a forecast total for the smartphone market of 1.1 billion units. IHS said one factor that could cause it to boost its 2013 iPhone forecast is if China Mobile decides to offer the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, both of which support the TD-LTE standard used by the Chinese state-run carrier. China Mobile has a vast mobile base of 710 million subscriptions, offering a massive growth opportunity for Apple, IHS said.
"If Apple had hit a US$350 to US$400 unsubsidized price range for the iPhone 5c, as some had speculated, the company might have had a chance to expand its smartphone shipments beyond what we originally expected in the second half," Sideco continued. "Even at a subsidized price of US$99 with a two-year contract, the 5c will not spur sales because it does not materially expand Apple's addressable market past the level we had already taken into account."
While Apple did not address the low end of the market with its announcement on September 10, the 5c represents a major departure from its previous product strategy, which could improve the company's competitiveness.
"With the new models, Apple is taking steps to bolster its share of the global smartphone market in the face of rising competition," said Ian Fogg, director for mobile and telecoms at IHS. "Alongside innovation with the iPhone design and features with iOS7, Apple is now also innovating at lower price points, too. The iPhone 5c is the first time Apple has built a fresh handset design for the mid-range smartphone market segment. By using a visibly different design for the iPhone 5c, rather than repurposing an old flagship, Apple is minimizing the risk of cannibalization of its more expensive iPhone models."
These new models and the improvements in the iOS7 software are critical for Apple because the iPhone is facing increased competition with Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG, which are all releasing strong smartphone flagships in 2013, IHS pointed out. Notably, Apple's portfolio lacks large-screen smartphone models with 5-inch 1080p displays.
But while other smartphone makers may have stereotyped Apple as a competitor only in the premium segment, Apple is choosing to take the battle to their home turf by expanding the aspirations of the new iPhone model. Now, new iPhone models will compete head-to-head with many more smartphone models from these rivals, IHS observed. Previously, competitors only encountered new iPhone opposition at the premium end of the market and competed with an older former flagship model in this segment.
The iPhone 5c and Apple's new operator deal in Japan with market leader NTT DoCoMo slightly increases the addressable market for the iPhone, IHS noted. The iPhone 5c's improved 4G LTE band support will also make it more attractive to European operators than the older iPhone 5, which supported only one European LTE band: 1800Mhz.
NTT DoCoMo and Apple have announced that the new iPhone 5s and 5c series will be available on the DoCoMo network beginning on September 20.