The Apple iPhone debuted five years ago June 29, and since then has earned Apple cumulative revenues of $150 billion, according to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics. The firm estimates that over the years, Apple has shipped 250 million iPhones worldwide.
The iPhone portfolio has become a huge generator of cash and profit for Apple, Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director, said in a June 27 statement. A quarter of a billion iPhones have been shipped cumulatively worldwide in the first five years since launch and Apple reaches its fifth birthday at the top of its game.
The launch of the iPhone was meaningful not only for Apple but for the mobile industry and beyond. Featuring the first touch-based user interface, it attracted a tremendous number of dollars and eyeballs, effortlessly expanding the smartphone market beyond mobile professionals.
Over the last five years, the iPhone has slimmed down, sped up, learned to speak and received a complete makeover.
Mawston warns, however, that the next five years are likely to prove more challenging for Apple and the iPhone.
Some mobile operators are becoming concerned about the high level of subsidies they spend on the iPhone, said Mawston, while Samsung is expanding its popular Galaxy portfolio and providing Apple with more credible competition.
Indeed, not only do shipments of Android smartphones exceed those of iOS-running devices, but Samsung alone, on the strength of its Galaxy line, now also ships more smartphones than Apple. While Apple grew nearly 89 percent year over year during the first quarter of 2012, shipping 35.1 million smartphones according to IDC, Samsung grew an astounding 267 percent, shipping 42.2 million units, up from 11.5 million a year earlier.
Samsung began selling its newest smartphone, the Galaxy S III, in the United States June 21, after debuting it weeks earlier in 28 countries. Though with weakened inventories, due to high demand, its now available from T-Mobile and Sprint, and by late July will be available from Verizon, AT&T and U.S. Cellular.
Apple, by contrast, made the iPhone available in the United States exclusively through AT&T for several years before finally extending it to Verizon Wireless in early 2011 and Sprint toward the end of that year. It's rumored that the next iPhone, expected to arrive in the fall, will be available from T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular as well. While Apples patent disputes with Samsung highlight the California companys belief that the South Korean device maker has borrowed from it too heavily, Applewhich is also expected to finally increase the display size of the next iPhoneappears to be learning a few things from Samsung as well.
Strategy Analytics expects global handset shipments to grow by just 4 percent during the second quarter of 2012, though the second half of the year will be stabilized by an improved pipeline of major new models, particularly Apples iPhone 5.
The industrys most important driver, however, will be Long-Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology, which the firm expects will double global handset shipments in 2013.