Apple Smartphone Market Share Will Peak in 2013: ABI

The report said Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software and device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future.

With the company under increasing pressure from smartphone market leader Samsung and a slew of devices running Google’s Android operating system, Apple’s share of the smartphone market is expected to peak in 2013 at 22 percent and remain flat through 2018, according to a report from IT analytics firm ABI Research.

Since 2010, Samsung has grown its smartphone market share from 8 percent to more than 30 percent in 2012, with Android accounting for 90 percent of the company’s total smartphone shipments. Overall smartphone shipments are expected to account for half of all handset shipments by 2014 and become the largest handset segment in the world. By 2018, 2.4 billion handset shipments with smartphones will account for 69 percent of all handset shipments.

“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,” ABI senior analyst Michael Morgan said in a statement. Handsets with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities are expected to account for 35 percent of all handset shipments and 50 percent of smartphone shipments in 2018.

Just as handset OEM focus has driven the success of the Android ecosystem, LTE smartphones will also experience a rapid increase in shipment penetration as handset OEMs work to keep their handsets relevant to mobile operators. Low-cost smartphones with LTE technology are expected to drive adoption of wireless wide area network (WWAN) technology across the globe. ABI forecasts that smartphones with wholesale prices under $250 will account for 62 percent of smartphone shipments by 2018.

“With the successful launch of the iPhone 5 and competing LTE handsets from other leading OEMs, LTE handsets will be found in the hands of many consumers who do not even have access to LTE networks,” ABI senior practice director Jeff Orr said in a statement. “Apple is demonstrating to the market that LTE is not the only reason to buy a premium handset.”

The report noted that because LTE handsets commonly feature the latest in screen- and application-processor technologies—like the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy family, LTE handsets will also benefit from the demand of consumers looking to acquire a premium smartphone regardless of its WWAN connectivity.

According to a Jan. 8 report from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the popularity of mobile-connected devices, consisting primarily of smartphones, tablets and notebooks, is driving the consumer electronics (CE) market to new heights.

Smartphones continue to be the primary revenue driver for the industry with growth projected to continue in 2013. Unit sales of smartphones are projected to reach 130 million this year, up from 111 million in 2012, while smartphone shipment revenues are expected to surpass $37 billion in 2013, up from $33 billion in 2012. Apple alone is projected to sell 173 million iPhone units this year, according to a recent report from Canaccord Genuity.