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Apple to push Nokia into smartphone second place

Will happen by 2013, analyst predicts

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UK market watcher Generator Research (GR) has suggested Apple could knock Nokia off the world smartphone maker top spot within four years.

By 2013, it forecast, Apple's iPhone line - by then expanded with a range of models - could have won a global marketshare of around 40 per cent. That's what Nokia currently enjoys. But the Finnish giant's share could halve by 2013, according to GR's analysis.

Apple will sell 77m smartphones in 2013. Nokia's share would suggest it'll sell just 38.5m of them, if GR's prediction proves correct.

GR research chief Andrew Sheehy pointed to a number of key factors driving Apple's upward trajectory. First, it's rather more focused on smartphones that Nokia, with a broad handset product line to develop and promote, can be, especially as a revenue driver.

More importantly, Apple has the AppStore and with it the foundation for online services that extend the smartphone's value. Sheehy believes that successful smartphones will increasingly integrated third-party apps and services to create a broader product than that defined by the hardware alone.

The AppStore, though in its infancy, provides a way for Apple to deliver that, building a platform akin to the iPod/iTunes service. Future development will see coders able to access not only iPhone resources but also network operator assets through their apps, Sheehy said.

Case in point: delivering network operator APIs through the iPhone would allow the platform to rapidly gain 'missing' features, such as the ability to send one text message to a group of users. Opening up the system this way, allows Apple to expand the capabilities of its devices without having to do the work while at the same time encouraging third-party app development, resulting in a richer platform.

"Outsiders are rewriting the mobile industry’s rulebook for how to deliver mobile services and the new rule number one is that you need a fully-integrated service development platform that has a rich API which is open to third-party developers on favourable commercial terms. Right now, Apple has the best platform and the best-looking forward roadmap," said Sheehy.

“We think that Apple will use its financial strength and revenue velocity to try to get one or more design cycles ahead of the competition.

"Essentially, we see Apple developing an extensive portfolio of wireless-enabled personal devices each of which will allow the owner to access and download services and applications intended for that device. Some of these devices will look like mobile phones but many will not." ®

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