Playing the iPhone 5 Guessing Game

| MacOS KenDensed

Mac Os KenEveryone thinks they know when Apple is launching the iPhone 5, the iPhone nano, and the iPhone whatever. Android is gaining, or losing, marketshare depending on who you talk to. And MobileMe? At lease we know that’s really going away. Mac OS Ken’s Ken Ray tries to sort it all out, or more accurately, tell you what he thinks about it all.

Coming Down on Ben
I have to say I’m a little disappointed in Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes.

It’s not that he didn’t call to wish me happy birthday a few months ago, though he didn’t. It’s not that he’s never publicly endorsed my show, though he hasn’t. No, I’m a little disappointed in Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes because he seems to be making up a reason for something that most analysts have said is unreasonable.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty has a price target on Apple shares of US$428, more than a C-Note over last Friday’s closing price of $326.35.

I’ve also told you over the past few weeks of a few financial analysts scratching their heads, saying they either don’t get why Apple’s shares are under-performing, or they do get why but they shouldn’t be. These have run along such lines as Apple CEO Steve Jobs is still on medical leave, but don’t worry because Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Phil Schiller, et al. have everything under control.

Or there might not be a new iPhone until September but don’t worry because iPhone 4 is still selling like hotcakes on which you can surf the web and make phone calls… and when the new iPhone does hit, well it’ll sell like even BETTER hotcakes on which you can surf the web and make phone calls.

Sometimes people are shortsighted or nervous seem to have been the reasons offered most often by financial analysts for Apple’s underperforming stock.

Enter Mr. Reitzes. MacNN has the Barclays analyst saying Apple’s stock refuses to move higher because of worries about the iPhone’s move to Qualcomm chips for 4G.

Really? I think it’s because Apple execs sacrificed the wrong color goat at the last ritualistic stock blessing, leading to the decline.

iPhone nano, Again
Ladies and Gentlemen I give you… snark.

Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore seems to have confused the mid-range iPhone mini, iPhone nano… iPhone-Lite… he seems to have confused that with Tinkerbell, assuming if he JUST believes hard enough, it’ll live.

Fortune has Whitmore citing no sources — not even unnamed sources — saying in a research note that he expects Apple to launch both an iPhone 5 and a mid-range iPhone 4S later this year.

Quoting his note: “With Nokia and RIM struggling, the time is right for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid range smart-phone market (i.e. $300-500 category) to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share.”

Oh the TIME is right. I didn’t realize what time it was. My bad.

Whitmore thinks an unlocked, iPhone 4S priced to move at $350 with a pre-paid voice plan would “drive significantly greater penetration” into markets that have — to this point — been unaddressable by every new iPhone we’ve seen so far. Sections of Africa, Asia and Latin America, for example, where phones tend to be bought outright and voice plans are paid for in advance.

To be fair, let’s talk about why Whitmore’s suggestion is not stupid: 1, Apple probably could sell a lot of phones in places where they cannot currently; and 2, Apple COO Tim Cook did tell Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi earlier this year that Apple “understood price is big factor in the prepaid market,” indicating that it was an area of which they were at least aware.

Now back to reality, where Apple has more often said “we want to make the best phones, not the most phones…” where Apple enjoys an average selling price of $629 per iPhone, despite a majority of consumers paying considerably less for the phone itself, and where the guy who says Apple will introduce two iPhones later this year has nothing on which to base that assertion… except for a Peter Pan-belief that he knows what time it is.

Way to step out on that limb Mr. Whitmore. Pay no attention to the guys with the chainsaws.

AppleInsider has both BMO Capital analyst Keith Bachman and FBR Capital analyst Craig Berger saying they think a cut-rate iPhone like the one Whitmore wants is unlikely.

A couple of weird things from Bachman: First he says his firm believes “that the [existing (iPhone)] 3GS will be the low-end iPhone…” kind of like it is today.

Additionally, he’s lowered his estimates for Apple’s iPhone shipments in the third quarter from 18 million to 17 million units due to what he says will be a later than expected launch of the next iPhone. Thing is he’s been calling for September launch since the end of March, which makes the mystery missing million kind of weird.

Meanwhile, FBR’s Berger says his sources indicate “no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Huh?

Android’s Little Slowdown
The arrival a few months ago of the Verizon iPhone seems to have caused a decent shift in smartphone momentum. Fortune has new numbers from Nielsen indicating that while Android is still the operating system running most of the smartphones purchased in the states, growth for Google’s mobile OS has slowed in the past four months, while growth for iOS has picked up.

The piece says it’s actually unclear whether it’s the Verizon iPhone causing the growth of iOS or the launch of iPad 2, which happened within a month of Big Red’s iPhone. Nielsen seems to be siding with the iPhone though, saying in its report, “Apple is now driving smartphone growth.”

Running down Nielsen’s March-to-May findings: Android claimed a 38 percent share of the U.S. market, up two percentage points from February-to-April. iOS claimed 27 percent, up one percentage point, and Research in Motion dropped two points, down to 21 percent.

More iPad Apps than You can Share a Stick At
The number of iPad specific apps in the App Store is starting to approach that stupid level. The one where it’s stupid to keep saying how many there are because there are just so many of them.

Fortune has three separate tallies showing the number of apps built specifically for Apple’s tablet having crested the 100, mark.

According to the piece, MacStories’ Frederico Viticci noticed this week that the number listed on the iPad’s App Store had hit 100,161, though Jef Scott of 148 Apps had his own count up to 102,994 as of last Sunday, and AppShopper — as of Thursday — had a count of 106,166.

Whichever’s closest, it’s a lot all over 100-thousand, and approaching the stupid level.

Rubin’s Magic Android Numbers
Are you like me? Tired of the iOS versus Android activation numbers? Then we’ll keep this short. Forbes has Andy Rubin, Google senior VP for mobile, saying this week that consumers are activating 500,000 Android devices every day.

Rubin also said — all of it via Twitter — that the number of Android devices activated is growing by 4.4 percent every week.

Kind of hard to make that jibe with stories we’ve seen lately of the iPhone’s market share growing in places like Australia and the UK while Android’s slips a bit. Then again, there are all of those places that Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore says Apple cannot compete until in intros the iPhone nano he imagines is gonna happen.

Oh, wait. I forgot about all of the Android tablets being activated.

Hah hah hah… ah.

MobileMe: End of the Line
And finally this week, the days for the MobileMe Gallery, iDisk, and iWeb are really starting to look numbered. 368, I guess that number would be.

CNET says Apple posted a frequently asked questions page about the move from MobileMe to iCloud last week with good news and bad news.

The good news: While it wasn’t made cleare at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote which iCloud features, if any, would have browser access as well. A number of them will.

E-mail, calendaring, contact management, and the Find My iPhone will all be accessible via browser the way they are today through Me.com. Not available via browser, though: “Apple-hosted Web sites made using iWeb, Apple-hosted photo galleries, and files stored as part of Apple’s iDisk storage service…” which would seem to stick a fork, stake, and, I don’t know, meat thermometer I guess, into those services.

Interestingly, the piece says “Apple says the syncing of dock items, keychain passwords, Mac OS X Dashboard widgets, and system preferences will not be carried over once MobileMe is shuttered.”

June 30th, 2012 is the drop-dead date for MobileMe services that will, in fact, drop dead. Assuming I’m doing my math correctly, that gives you 368 days to make other arrangements.

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Comments

wab95

These are the first data that I’ve seen actually documenting a slow-down in Android growth in the US, although I have been hearing about it for over a month. I was intrigued to see the CNN Money coverage of Nielsen’s data, but at least it is there.

I concur with the sentiment that it may yet be premature to ascribe this to the iPhone per se, as I have also seen no data that disaggregates iOS uptake contribution from the iPad.

The entire debate around the effect of Verizon’s adoption of the iPhone and predicted negative impact on Android sales (US only) is a tale, in my view, best told post iPhone 5 (or 4S) release, when people review their contract options. As for the rest of the planet, Android (and Google) remain best poised for smart phone penetration on low-end and very inexpensive handsets.

Bill Calvery

“At lease we know that?s really going away.”  Don’t you mean, “at LEAST…”

Another Steve

Tim Cook expressed more to Sacconaghi than just an awareness of the price sensitivity of the prepaid market:  “Cook said the company is planning ?clever things? to address the prepaid market, and that Apple did not want its products to be ?just for the rich,? and that the company is ?not ceding any market.?...

http://blogs.forbes.com/ericsavitz/2011/02/28/apple-plots-move-to-expand-iphones-market-share/

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