updated 06:16 pm EST, Thu December 12, 2013
Current and projected future sales paint rosy picture for Apple
Surging on the strength of its new models, Apple's premium iPhone 5s and mid-range iPhone 5c continued to dominate sales with all the major US wireless carriers, with only Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 positioned as a challenger. US sales data also showed an unsurprising dominance by the iPad in tablet sales, with a new study suggesting that 72 percent of future tablet buyers plan on getting an iPad.
Source: Canaccord Genuity
The Cupertino giant continues to gain share in North American markets and elsewhere, and dominates profit and end-user metrics. As usually happens, the quarter immediately following an iPhone or iPad refresh shows a strong spike in demand.
In the quarter before the debut of the latest iPhone and iPad models, top-selling phones were more diversified across carriers. Depending on the company, one could find companies other than Apple and Samsung at or near the top of some charts, including entries from HTC, Nokia, Sony and Motorola. While Apple's products do perennially well, Samsung and others can take advantage of the lull near the end of an iPhone product cycle to muster stronger sales.
Following the iPhone 5s and 5c debut, however, the charts are back to their usual patterns. In the latest stats (covering November), the iPhone 5s was the top-selling handset at all four major US carriers, with the Samsung Galaxy S4 in second place and the iPhone 5c in third, beating all other rivals according to sales reports from Canaccord Genuity.
The only variance to this in the last three months was in September, when the iPhone 5c (which was more available at the time than the scarce and sought-after 5s) moved into second place at both AT&T and Sprint. The 5c also took second place in October at AT&T, but AT&T has always emphasized the iPhone and carried the product longer than another retailer.
Canaccord's sales checks also showed strong growth for the iPhone 5s outside North America (for example, it is currently dominating Japanese smartphone sales, and tripled the iPhone's marketshare in China last month) -- prompting analyst T. Michael Walkley to tell investors that the 5s was "by far the top-selling smartphone ... at most channels where [it] launched globally." The report also noted that Apple had a "strong Black Friday weekend" for the new iPad Air and Retina iPad mini tablets everywhere they were available as well.
A separate study by consumer researchers Changewave reiterated the enthusiasm for the iPad above all rivals in the tablet space. In its November study, the company found that 72 percent of buyers planning to get a tablet of some kind during the holiday season plan to buy an iPad model.
Apple was the only brand to hit double digits in terms of buyers planning to buy. Samsung took second place with nine percent of future buyers, tied with Google's Nexus. Eight percent of buyers expect to buy the Microsoft Surface, and Amazon's Kindle Fire came in last among the major brands at five percent. Apple's result is a 17 point jump from the previous survey in August (before the new iPad products had been announced).
It should be noted that potential holiday-quarter tablet buyers made up only 13 percent of the general public in the US-based survey, but this is still a significant portion of consumers -- easily making a tablet among the hottest consumer electronics items this season. Among the iPad buyers, 55 percent believed they would be buying an iPad Air, with only 16 percent going for the Retina iPad mini. Our review of the iPad Air called it a "redefinition of the full-size tablet" and echoed other reviews by saying that "if you want the very best tablet with the very best range of tablet-specific apps, there is only one choice."
The statistics would suggest that Apple's pursuit of lighter-weight designs has now reversed the widely-held previous belief (prior to the new models) that the iPad mini handily outsold the full-size fourth-generation iPad. The still-available full-size iPad 2 was the choice of seven percent of buyers, with the first-generation iPad mini winning only five percent. Some 17 percent of future iPad buyers hadn't decided which particular model they wanted.