Amid weak Android launches, it's Apple iPhone time to shine

Amid weak Android launches, it's Apple iPhone time to shine

Summary: The Samsung Galaxy S5 launch didn't lead the charge and the Android hardware ecosystem looks stumped. Apple has a low bar to clear to gain share.

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The biggest takeaway from the Mobile World Congress powwow was that hardware innovation has stalled, Android smartphones are a dime a dozen and Samsung's Galaxy S5 may barely be evolutionary.

All of those tidbits could add up to nice gains for Apple's iPhone franchise, which will likely include larger screen sizes in the near future.

CNET Reviews: Samsung: Galaxy Grand 2 | Note 3 | S5 | Apple iPhone 5S

On Monday, Cannaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley upped his price target and earnings forecast for Apple largely based on a so-so Android lineup. He said:

Given the lack of differentiated Android smartphones, we believe Apple could gain market share of the high-end smartphone and tablet markets during 2H/2014 based on our belief new iPhones and iPads with larger screen sizes could create a strong upgrade cycle among Apple’s loyal base. In fact, our February wireless store surveys indicated the iPhone 5s was still the most aspirational smartphone and the top selling device in the U.S. and in many international markets despite seasonally slower sales trends.

As I noted before, the Samsung Galaxy S5 launch fell flat. Sure, Samsung will sell a nice amount of units as folks upgrade from Galaxy S3, but there's nothing to salivate over. Samsung's biggest advantage is screen size and if Apple can close that gap then the game changes dramatically. The fact that Korean financial analysts haven't said much about the Galaxy S5 is telling. These analysts gushed over the S4. If the cheerleaders don't have anything nice to say they apparently stay quiet.

Also: Samsung Galaxy S5: Why I'm rooting for the little guys

This inability for Android device makers to shine has been a recurring theme in research notes. Qualcomm has received a lot of applause coming off of MWC, but that's only because the processor maker is the leader and will do well even in a smartphone market that'll wow no one. Qualcomm's demo of its latest LTE processor is likely to lock in device makers.

Sanjiv Wadhwani, an analyst, at Stifel Nicolaus, summed up the Qualcomm take:

One of the most anticipated product announcements at MWC was that of Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5. While certainly a very high-end phone that is equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and Wi-Fi connectivity, most of the enhancements such as improved camera, fitness-related capabilities, improved UI and new casing are incremental in nature in our view.

Wadhwani argued that the game will now move to emerging markets. Qualcomm will be a player there, but faces competition from rivals such as MediaTek. If the smartphone and tablet markets are saturated, it's going to be very tricky for a company like Intel to break in.

In any case, all of this Android ecosystem consternation sets up nicely for Apple. For Apple, the pressure is off a good bit. Apple simply doesn't have to do much---other than deliver various screen sizes---to woo a few Android users and spur an upgrade cycle for its base.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, iPhone, Samsung, Smartphones

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210 comments
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  • Wouldn't be apple without something indefferent

    We'll see how Tim and teams come up with. But it wouldn't be so much Apple company if come up with something exactly as expected.
    albalain
    • hmm

      Shine huh? Not so much... They haven't had a new product line launch in 5 years!

      The iPhone and iPad are getting stale.
      slickjim
      • And what are you basing that on?

        Certainly not sales.
        Englishmole
        • Market share had just gone down for IOS

          Across all segments, there will come a time like Apple computers in the past that it will be final.

          When will that happen? When IOs starts losing its grip in the US and Japan, it already lost Europe and the most of rest of the World. But with two large markets like Japan, North America and Australia it can survive for now.

          Yet it still lost market share in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. Why is this critical? As economic conditions improve in these regions, and they have been for the past decades, their market share will dwarf the others substantially. Then volume of sales in North America, Japan and Australia will men didly squat.
          Uralbas
          • Year to year sales

            Are still increasing, and profits are increasing. So, by the only two metrics that actually count, the iPhone is doing extremely well.
            baggins_z
          • Junk

            Yes, Apple is still price gouging its customer and making a profit. The iPhone 5C and iPad 2 are old tech over priced gadgets that should be shot, instead you and Apple continue to hype these products and gouge poor customers. Nice job.
            Sean Foley
          • My son as the Galaxy SIII - talk about junk

            He's on his 3rd one all warranty issues. This one the battery goes full, then within 30 minutes it 50%. Over heats in a case and God help you if you don't have a case. So yeah I can see why Samsung was lackluster.
            ScanBack
          • Presume I have gaurdian angel

            as mine runs fine without a case thanks. Presume the rest of your post was BS as well.
            Little Old Man
          • Seen the same with iPhone

            I have seen iPhones have the same issue. Every now and then a bad phone gets through. You can't extrapolate to all devices from one bad phone.
            gatormba2003
          • I have the Galaxy S III - a great phone

            My S3 has been rattling around in my pockets for 14 months now without a case. No problems. No issues. It works and works well. I had a niggle for about 4 weeks early on when very occasionally it went into a perpetual reboot loop, but an automatic update must have cured it because it hasn't happened for over 9 months now.
            A question: when a smartphone does everything anyone could want of a phone, how do you improve it? It's very difficult without adding spurious 'features' of no use to anyone. On the fitness front, no phone has a blood pressure meter or blood sugar meter built in - will those ever be part of the smart phone?
            JohnOfStony
          • Samsung

            Should have at least released it with a better body instead of the same ol' same ol' aesthetics too are important in keeping a loyal fanbase.
            ArcaneAce
          • Samsung

            Should have at least released it with a better body instead of the same ol' same ol' aesthetics too are important in keeping a loyal fanbase.
            ArcaneAce
          • My point exactly!

            This is exactly what I have said for months. The same has largely happened in the PC and PC software markets. There are only so many useful features you can add before devices become bloated with useless "features" that are added solely for the purpose of trying to justify the price of an "upgrade".
            number cruncher
          • Junk? Get a current phone...

            My S4 has been a rock, dropped several times, carried in my pocket all the time with only a thin case and screen protector. My daughter and son in law's iPhone 5's in much stronger cases have both failed and been replaced. The battery life on their phones is poor as well. Get your kid a current Galaxy S5 or the great S4. Bigger screen, higher resolution, and excellent battery life...
            hgriffin1
          • better yet get them a nexus 5

            amazing phone based on the best smart phone out there right now the LG g2 .
            priced very cheap
            snoonw
          • And....

            Now! With even more malware! I'll take the walled garden, especially for the kids, and even more so for the employees.
            RealNonZealot
          • seriously?

            You base you choice on media hype? It's more limiting than you even know.
            lamorpa
          • No product is 100% reliable.

            They are all manufactured on assembly lines in Asia. At least with Samsung you can take the battery out and try another and eliminate that problem. I had the SIII for 2 years and no issues.
            Orlbuckeye76
          • Galaxy S3

            The primary reason one buys a Samsung over other Android OEM devices is that when the battery goes bad (as all batteries eventually do) you just buy a new battery. You do not have to junk the entire device. I have an S3 I bought 18 months ago and battery is roughly 85% of what it was new. It has been my daily driver and heavily used, though common sense has been exercised with respect to charging and draining for proper battery maintenance (never let it drain to cell damage levels, and avoid overcharging).

            I may not love Samsung devices but they are the only handset maker that provides must have features like replaceable batteries in higher end devices. Can you imagine having to replace your entire car because the tires are no longer adequate? You just replace the tires! How do handset makers not understand that!?!?!
            Ted Calouri
          • battery replacement

            You might want to research your Apple phones. The batteries are replaceable in the iPhones. You just have to take them apart which requires about 1/2 hour of your time. I've done many of them.
            hankeester