iPhone market share to peak at 22 percent in 2013, says analyst

Could the iPhone breach the 22 percent market share 'peak,' as set by one analysts' firm, if Apple hit the enterprise sector harder?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

One research firm believes that Apple's iPhone market share will peak at 22 percent, and that it will hit that ceiling this year -- and then remain flat thereon in.

Despite predictions that smartphone shipments will account for half of all handset shipments by 2014, and a steady rise to 2.4 billion shipments by 2014: "Barring an unlikely collapse in Samsung’s business, even Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software, and device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future," says ABI Research senior analyst Michael Morgan.

Apple currently holds an 18.5 percent share of the U.S. mobile subscribers market, according to recent comScore figures. Samsung currently pegs in at 26.9 percent, rising by 1.2 percent in the three-months ending November.

Samsung continues to grow in market share at a steady rate -- occasionally falling by a percentage point here and there -- but Apple continues to, month-on-month, increase its share and at a faster rate than Samsung.

Samsung has grown significantly in market share since 2010, from mid single digit percent through to around 30 percent at its peak, depending on the market share statistics you read. The reason why Samsung has rocketed so far and so quickly is partially thanks to its availability of cheaper smartphones with a lower profit margin than Apple's, but also because it spreads its platform load across the various Android versions, but also Bada, Tizen, and Windows Phone.

Samsung has also invested in newer technologies faster than Apple did in the smartphone space, by including near-field communications (NFC) technology for wireless payments, and 4G LTE networking for next-generation mobile broadband speeds.

"Apple is demonstrating to the market that LTE is not the only reason to buy a premium handset," said ABI Research senior practice director Jeff Orr.

But, if Apple were to gain further traction in the enterprise market, the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant could grab even more of the smartphone market, and even surpass the estimated peak of 22 percent this year.

Apple does not pitch its products to the enterprise, at least on the face of it. Apple said on its fiscal third quarter earnings call that the number of iPhones in the enterprise has doubled, while the number of iPads in the enterprise has tripled. The rate of installing in-house apps, delivered through Apple's B2B application store, continues to increase rapidly.

Whether or not Apple pitches to the enterprise directly, indirectly, willingly or inadvertently, the enterprise sector is knocking on Apple's door asking it to be let in. Forget the BlackBerry, the iPhone is where it's at. Forget Windows on the PC, because businesses are starting to rely on post-PC devices, such as the iPad. Android isn't gaining traction in the enterprise space because Google's fragmentation of the Android ecosystem is making it increasingly difficult for IT managers to secure every single version. iOS has one, consistent version throughout, and benefits from the back-end mobile device management (MDM) enhancements.

If momentum carries on the way it is, and IT budgets stretch that little bit further in order to continue to snap up iPhones for their enterprise workspace, the consumer iPhone saturation point won't matter. 

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