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PEAK iPHONE? Apple mobe growth slumps to ‘lowest in its history’

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Samsung has extended its lead over Apple by shifting considerably more smartphones than its adversary during the first quarter of 2013.

The South Korean giant also managed to ship 56 per cent more mobes in those three months than it did in the same period a year ago.

Among the world’s top five smartphone vendors, Apple - despite shipping more phones during Q1 2013 than it did in Q1 2012 - actually saw its market share slip year on year as all its key rivals performed better, figures from market watcher Strategy Analytics show.

So while Apple’s global smartphone share fell from 22.8 per cent in Q1 2012 to 17.9 per cent in Q1 2013, Samsung’s share grew (28.9 per cent to 33.1 per cent), as did those of LG (3.2 per cent to 4.9 per cent), Huawei (3.3 per cent to 4.8 per cent) and ZTE (3.0 per cent to 4.3 per cent).

The "others" category - including Nokia, HTC, Sony and Motorola - declined, and now accounts for 35.0 per cent of global smartphone shipments, down from 38.8 per cent in the year-ago quarter.

Apple’s market share declined despite a 6.6 per cent increase in unit shipments, and still leaves it in the number two spot with a considerable lead over third-placed LG. The Cupertino company is also number three in the world handset market, which reached 372.7 million units during the quarter, 56.2 per cent of which were smartphones.

Smartphones shipments across the board were up 36.2 per cent to 209.5 million units, so Apple is clearly well behind the growth curve. And likely to remain there with no new handset expected until the autumn - if CEO Tim Cook’s recent comments are taken at face value - and Samsung seemingly generating so much demand for the Galaxy S4.

Samsung’s Korean rival, LG, along with China’s Huawei and ZTE, all saw their unit shipments double year on year, so they are all on a roll. Those last two shipped primarily into their own nations, which shows how important the Chinese market is if you want to grow in the smartphone business.

Apple, for one, needs to take note. “Apple grew just seven per cent annually during Q1 2013, which was the iPhone’s lowest growth rate ever in its history,” said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston. “Apple’s premium-only strategy for the iPhone is approaching a natural ceiling and it will need to expand deeper into large markets like China or launch a lower-priced iPhone model for mass-market users.” ®

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