2012: End of the World for iPhone Marketshare?


Could Apple's iPhone be destined for 3rd place in smartphone marketshare by 2012, trailing Nokia/Symbian's 39% and Google Android's 14.5% with a paltry 13.7%? That's what some analysts at Gartner are telling ComputerWorld, with Nokia already in the global lead, and Google's wallet, cloud-services, rapid iteration of the OS, and variety of form-factors and UIs from multiple manufacturers. Rounding out the other players are Windows Mobile with 12.8%, RIM BlackBerry with 12.5%, various Linux mobiles with a collective 5.4%, and Palm webOS with 2.1%.

iPhone, projected at 71.5 million unites sold, doesn't have Nokia's existing footprint or Google's services, but here's the thing: a) it has Apple's still-unmatched 360 degrees of ecosystem integration, b) will likely continue to improve at the same rate it has since the original iPhone 2G running 1.x with no apps or services in 2007, and c) will remain wildly profitable, and that profit share will remain more important to Apple than raw marketshare.

TiPb has discussed this before, of course. Back in August we heard that while the iPhone currently only has 8% of the market, it gets 32% of the revenue. Further back in January, we heard Apple was making double the profits of Nokia.

So, okay, if the Mayans are wrong and we're all still here in 2012, maybe Apple will only be making 30% margin on a 13.7% share. But that might still be killer compared to very little on a 39% share.

Just compare Apple's current financial results to the rest of the industry for an indication of how that works...

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

2012: End of the World for iPhone Marketshare?


You know, people always make comments when anything is predicted to happen in 2012, like "well that is if the world is still here." You do realize that the Mayans predict the world will end on Dec. 21 (or 23rd)? So in all likelihood if anything is going to happen in 2012 there is only the slimmest possibility that the world will have ended before it happens.
/ pet peeve

WHO CARES?! jus upgrade the iPhone alrdy.I'm rdy for summer 2010; so I can upgrade my iPhone with AT&T with an even better iPhone 4.0 and hopefully join Verizon... because" there's a map for that"

I like my 3GS, but HTC and others look alot hungrier than Apple right now. I'm afraid Apple won't be able to get out of it's own way.
I'm a little confused about the "360 degree ecosystem integration" comment, and frankly all of paragraph 2. The iPhone only plays well with other Apple products. Most iPhone owners are not Apple nerds, so this just doesn't apply. And, assuming constant growth rate until the end of time is what doomed Motorola during the Razr craze.

Don't give a sh!t...
... just like I haven't given a sh!t about all of my Macs being less popular than PCs for the past two decades. As long as I know that I have the best, other people's puzzling choices don't matter to me.

If Apple wants to increase their market share then all they have to do is kill the ATT deal and allow all carriers to offer the iphone. Many people simply refuse to use ATT as their carrier.

Right on fastlane. I'm more concerned that the iPhone is the best in class, not the highest margin, sales figures, or whatever. It should remain a premium product for 10 to 20% of the world. If they keep that focus, they'll be fine. Ferrari has low market share.

I agree. Apple's kept the mac line popular for the past few decades and they're getting better and better. Apple won't let the iPhone die within only 5 years or so. They'll continue to improve upon it and probably split it like the macs into pro, air, and standard.

My pet peeve is that people believe that the mayans predicted the end of days when they really didn't. Even though their calendar stopped on December 21, 2012, there is no evidence in the Mayan culture that ever suggested they knew when the end of the world would occur at all. Did it ever occur to you that they didn't make another calendar because they were being enslaved by the Spanish?
Getting back on topic, marketshare does not translate to profits. As long as Apple makes good products, they will continue to see revenue.

Seems to me that people buying today's iPhones are the Mac buyers of tomorrow. They are also going to be repeat buyers at the rate that the competitors are lagging.
I know that's my own experience already. I bought an iPhone, was blown away and bought a Mac, ditto.
From this fast-growing user base, I think Apple may be doing much better than the predictions are saying in a couple of years from now.

I agree with Loz. I bought my iPhone in feb/09 and am buying another one next month for the wife, and a mac book for me.

The Mayan calendar was round. ROUND. As in it was a CIRCLE. The calendar had to end in some year but that doesn't mean the world ends THAT exact year (day or month). Too much superstition there y'all.

By December 2012 there will be only 2 smartphones left standing: iPhone and iH8iF1. The latter will have hacked iTunes sync to provide seamless access to a gazillion apps in the Appstore. But someone will accidentally trip over a "kill switch" and the world as we know will end...

I wouldn't be concerned with Symbian's share, as Nokia is moving away from that platform toward Maemo Platform, which is Linux.
Its doubtful they will continue to support both.
(Nokia owns GTK, one of the major UI tools in the Linux world.)
Since Android is basically Linux, and Nokia N900 is linux, one wonders just how long that differentiation will last.
Does it matter? Probably not.
What DOES matter is how well the UI works and device features. That is where the Android crew will have an advantage of numbers and brain-share over either of the other camps. Simply the amount of resources that can be brought to bare.
You can tell the iPhone team at Apple is fairly small. (Judging by how long it takes to get features and how many bugs are introduced each time they touch the code).
Pit that against 57 companies running Android and submitting bub patches and feature additions.
The best bet for Apple would be to adopt Android, and hang their look and feel on top of it, since that's what they do best.

Mayan calendar clearup. They not predict the end of the world, it is simply the beginning of a new major number, sort of the equivilent in decimals of going from 99 to 100 or from 9999 to 10000. It's just a new place marker, their calendar could actually be used for all eternity if you continued to follow the rules they established to determine when new major numbers emerge. It's called wikipedia people.

@ icebike
(Nokia owns GTK, one of the major UI tools in the Linux world.)
Nokia does not own GTK. GTK is not owned any company. Nokia owns QT. What may have confused you is that the Maemo platform on the N900 uses GTK and not the QT that they own. Down the road they will change Maemo over to QT.
I think this change over will slow down adoption and support for Maemo. Just because it is a major change in direction.

Hopefully by then people will realize what a steaming pile that is the Iphone's UI. It is really awful.

So it continues. the stop Apple's momentum at all costs is continuing. Now even Gartner is in the game.
We heard this before; during the infancy of the ipod. These guys just say anything. It is called free speech. Afterall sophism is not illegal.

The catch is, how much the smartphone market is going to grow in that time. While Apples marketshare may appear static, or slightly lower - there going to be shipping a ridiculous amount of iPhones compared to the numbers there shipping right now.

Maybe by then you will realize that many people have quite a different opinion from yours and you will learn to deal with that fact. maybe?

Ive used the g1 and quite honestly i hope for the sake of android this is the absolute bottom of the barel......i mean really far down....like so far down you cant see it.....its just.....well it sucks....im sorry, just my opinion....maybe its the horrendous hardware.....the problem i see with android is the same problem that has plagued all open source os.....its really for tech geeks isnt it? and i mean no offence here. the iphone is aimed at your average consumer and seems to serve that majority segment quite well. im sorry but all those predicting the iphones demise seem to be in the minority

ive never seen anyone with such disdain for a company and their products as you have towards apple..Did steve jobs kill your kitten or bang your mom.....? i mean honestly.....besides as long as apple sticks to their current ways of doing things, the chances of them going bankrupt are about as likely as planet X knocking the earth out of its orbit in 2012 or whatever other ridiculous thing is supposed to happen...

At the moment I'm happy with my iPhone it wa my first apple buy apart from my iPod . And it confirmed to me just how good apple are so much so that next computer will be a mac just waiting to see what this tablet gonna be like.
Now the thing is with me I'm always gonna want the best and my contract on my original 3g is still running till jan and I'm still happy with the performance being that it's jailbroken and running well. Don't really feel the need to get the 3gs so thinking about keeping 3g and switching carrier and waiting to see what the next model is going to be like.
Now in the meantime if android or any other manufacturers come out with an iPhone killer then that's where my money will be going because I am a consumer ! And want the most bang for my buck!
I like apple lots but like the best product better
and for the moment it's the iPhone but the competition is closing in fast beware apple android cometh!

Honestly I don't see the competition between the iPhone and android. Android will keep running on more and more devices while there will remain one iPhone ( of course other ver are possible but even then it doesn't compare). It makes sense that android would eventually take market share away from the iPhone. The bottom Line though is that if apple keeps selling iPhones like they are, what does it matter? Less market share for apple yet steady to increased sales? They'll be fine

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