Crazy numbers from Counterpoint Research, South Korea’s open for Apple Pay, and the Kremlin has it out for iPhone.
Report: Premium Smartphones Owned 2022 (and Apple Owned Premium Smartphones)
Two crazy data points from Counterpoint Research: No. 1 — Sales of premium smartphones (that’s phones costing $600 or more) made up more than half of global smartphone revenue in 2022. No. 2 — Apple’s share of global premium smartphones in 2022 was 75%.
On the first point: Counterpoint says premium smartphone sales climbed 1% in 2022, though smartphones as a whole dropped 12%. It sounds like a total haves and have-nots thing. Quoting Counterpoint:
Despite the tough market conditions in 2022, affluent consumers were more immune to the macroeconomic difficulties than customers from the lower end. Consequently, sales in the premium market grew, while those in the entry and mid-tier segments declined.
In fairness, that’s only part of the equation. Counterpoint argues that more buyers who can are willing to spend more on premium models. That’s partly due to the more central role smartphones play in people’s lives and partly due to knowing they can hold on to premium phones for a longer stretch. The way the firm sees it, that kind of thinking “is one of the reasons the $1,000 and above price segment was the fastest growing (38% YoY) in 2022.”
Focusing in on Apple — Sales of iPhone models over $600 grew 6% in Counterpoint’s estimation. That gave the Cupertino-company three-quarters of the world’s premium smartphone share. When is that figure a depressing one? When one considers what might have been. “Apple could have grown more,” notes Counterpoint, “if not for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max supply disruption during the peak holiday season in 2022.”
iPhone’s dominance of the premium space seems unlikely to give way any time soon. “The stickiness of the iOS ecosystem” plus “Apple’s aspirational brand value and step-by-step expansion” are likely to stand it in good stead. That said, Counterpoint thinks iPhone may cede some ground this year with premium, foldable Android phones anticipated in 2023.
Report: Apple Pay Goes Live in South Korea
An event five or six years in the making. After a plan that reportedly began in 2017, a piece from MacRumors says Apple Pay has finally gone live in South Korea.
In fairness to Apple, the company moved fairly quickly once it was allowed to move at all. According to the report, the Cupertino-company:
…was unable to be registered as an electronic financial business operator because regulators were investigating whether Apple Pay violated local regulations and laws.
That hurdle was cleared in the early part of February, and now — here we are. Or, there they are.
The question now: Will Apple Pay adoption open a flood or a trickle? A number of reports, including one from The Korea Times, point to a lack of NFC in point-of-sale terminals. According to that report:
…the service still faces significant challenges in Korea due to the limited number of stores equipped with NFC terminals. Currently, below ten percent of the credit card member stores in Korea are equipped with the necessary infrastructure…
That said, we may want to check back in a few weeks. The same piece from The Korea Times says:
Several major retailers in Korea, including convenience stores and supermarkets such as Lotte Mart, Homeplus, and Costco, have already prepared to adopt the new Apple Pay service. Additionally, some department stores and coffee chains, such as Ediya and Mega Coffee, are reportedly in the process of preparing to adopt the NFC terminals.
Etymology and Kremlinology: Russia Tells Govt. Officials to Ditch iPhones/Smartphones
One wonders whether “iPhone” is like “Xerox” or “Kleenex” in Russia. Has the use of the term “iPhone” replaced the term “smartphone” the way “Xerox” has replaced “photocopy” or “Kleenex” has replaced “tissue?”
9to5Mac ran a piece Monday, the headline of which said (in part), “Russia bans officials from using iPhones.” That cites a Reuters report, which cites a report from the Russian paper Kommersant. Apparently, the concern is the 2024 presidential election (the one in Russia) and worries about spying (in Russia). According to Reuters, the directive comes “because of concerns that the devices are vulnerable to Western intelligence agencies.”
Mr. Kettle, I have Mr. Pot on line two…
To my question about iPhone and Xerox and Kleenex (oh, my!), the piece has an unnamed Russian official saying, “It’s all over for the iPhone: either throw it away or give it to the children…”
Disposable — apparently something else iPhone and Kleenex have in common in Russia. As for the more thorough of the bunch, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted in the piece saying:
Smartphones should not be used for official business. Any smartphone has a fairly transparent mechanism, no matter what operating system it has – Android or iOS. Naturally, they are not used for official purposes.
Or won’t be. MacRumors says affected individuals have until April 1 to ditch their smartphones.
Apple and Hello Sunshine Nab Rights to Novel ‘Maybe Next Time’
Apple TV+ and Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine seem to have another production in the works. Deadline says the two have won in competition for the rights to the latest book from Cesca Major, Maybe Next Time.
If you’ve not heard of it, don’t feel too bad. The piece says the book was published two-weeks ago today here in the states. It comes out in the U.K. in a little over a week. As for what it’s about, Deadline says:
There is a Groundhog Day element to this one, as a woman relives the same day over, trying to keep her family and career from imploding as she attempts to save her husband’s life.
As it stands now, this will be a one-shot for Apple and Hello Sunshine. While Witherspoon’s production company has guided such Apple TV+ series as “The Last Thing He Told Me,” “My Kind of Country,” “Truth Be Told,” and “The Morning Show,” Deadline says Maybe Next Timeis being “developed as an Apple Original Film from Apple Studios…”
For Sale: 10-Year Apple Plaque Signed by Steve Jobs
And finally today, another piece of Apple history is up for sale — available at a buy-it-now price. 9to5Mac says “an award plaque signed by [Steve] Jobs and presented to an Apple employee in 2000” is up for purchase.
According to the site, the “rare goods website Moments in Time” is selling the plaque. 9to5Mac says what’s being offered:
…is a 10-year award plaque presented by Apple to former marketing executive Suzanne Lindbergh in 2000. It includes a special note celebrating the 10-year anniversary milestone, with an actual Steve Jobs autograph at the bottom.
Jobs was notoriously stingy with his signature, which is what makes this plaque both rare and pricey. While Moments in Time says the price is only available on request, it seems TMZ did ask, and they don’t mind sharing.
$95,000 is the reported price. But hey — no accidentally paying more than that in the heat of bidding battle.
Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast
TMO Managing editor Jeff Butts and I will go a bit deeper in those Counterpoint smartphone numbers — Plus a little bit more on the Kremlin’s smartphone ban. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.