Smartphone Sales, AR Headsets, Amazing Auctions

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Counterpoint points out smartphone sales, talk around Apple’s headset plans, and neat tech stuff up for auction.

Counterpoint Tracks Smartphone Sales in Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Two-fisted tales of telephony. Smartphonery?

Two reports on smartphone shipments from Counterpoint Research. They cover last quarter and last year, so they are not great. 

The first report covers Europe, which had a smartphone market beaten up by “a dire economic climate and ongoing geopolitical uncertainty…” For the fourth-quarter, the continent saw shipments of 45 million units — a decline of 24% year-on-year. Counterpoint says that marked the worst fourth-quarter for smartphones in Europe since 2011, and contributed to the worst year for smartphones in Europe since 2012. According to the firm:

  • Samsung stayed on top in the December-quarter despite a 25% drop in shipments versus the same quarter a year earlier
  • Apple took second place back from Xiaomi despite its weakest smartphone launch in Europe since iPhone 5 in 2012
  • Though it got shoved into third, Xiaomi’s year-on-year decline was said to be the least drastic of any of the top phone makers according to Counterpoint

Counterpoint Associate Director Jan Stryjak was quoted in the release, saying:

…there was no let up for European consumers in Q4 as the cost of living remained at record levels. Yes, the traditional Christmas boost meant quarterly shipments increased compared to Q3, but consumer demand remained muted. Apple’s usual strong end to the year was weaker than expected, allowing Samsung to maintain its leadership of the European market. 

One assumes that iPhone weakness was tied to production problems at Foxconn’s iPhone City plant in Zhengzhou, China. And assume one will have to, since Counterpoint does not comment on the reason. 

As for what’s ahead, the first-half of 2023 still looks dicey for smartphones in Europe, with hope for better days in the second-half. Quoting Stryjak again:

…the challenging macro climate and ongoing geopolitical tensions will continue into 2023 and potentially get worse initially as the cost-of-living crisis deepens through Winter. Some countries are likely to fall into recession, so with weakened consumer demand and high inventory levels for some OEMs, the first half of 2023 will be tough. However, inflation has stabilised and wholesale energy prices have dropped, leading to hopes of interest rate and energy bill cuts later in the year. This should boost consumer confidence and spur demand, leading to a better second half of the year.

On now to the Middle East and Africa, where iPhone… kind of doesn’t exist much. Counterpoint’s second report says sales dropped for Apple as they did for the region, though iPhone’s marketshare grew. That said, the prize goes to Samsung. Quoting Counterpoint:

Market leader Samsung saw YoY volume and market share growth in 2022, a terrific performance given the market realities. This was due to the success of the Galaxy A series in capturing the market for aspirational upgraders, particularly those that may be getting their first 5G devices. The company also benefitted from a significantly improved supply chain position, giving distributors clarity and certainty in a time of turbulence.

Wouldn’t that have been neat. 

One must scan all the way down to sixth-place to find Apple, though it’s not all bad news. Quoting Counterpoint again:

Apple’s shipments dropped YoY, but the brand saw its market share increase due to broadened distribution in the region and the success of the iPhone 13 series. The iPhone 14 series launch has not been as successful as the iPhone 13 series. However, sales have concentrated towards the higher-end iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models, thus replicating Apple’s value gains seen in other more developed markets.

If you’re a certain kind of nerd, what’s happening with smartphones across the Middle East and Africa is interesting. 5G is really just starting to grow across the regions. “While globally 5G smartphone prices are coming down due to the availability of more affordable models,” Counterpoint says the growth of 5G devices in the area “will actually boost the average selling price (ASP) in the region, as customers upgrade to more sophisticated devices.” That should grow the value of the region’s smartphone market, according to the firm. With an emphasis on more affordable though, it’s tough to see that doing a lot for Apple near term. 

Nikkei Asia: First and Second MR Headsets from Apple in Development

There’s news around Apple’s AR/VR/MR headset. Well… talk around it, anyway. A piece from Nikkei Asia has word of the first version of the device — expected sometime this year, and a second version said to be in development already. 

A piece from AppleInsider highlights the Nikkei report, which is mostly about making the things. According to that, development and production of the first device has shifted from Pegatron to Luxshare. The sources are secret, but there are said to be a lot of them. Nikkei heard the word from five individuals “familiar with the matter.” 

If you’re looking for a reason to be nervous, Pegatron is said to be out because it “became skeptical about Apple’s headset plans…” If you’re looking to calm those nerves, did I mention that second headset said to already be in development. That one will be made by Foxconn, according to the piece, and that’s the one that’s expected to really sell. AppleInsider has Nikkei saying:

Apple’s first generation of AR devices will be extremely expensive, and really only can attract those passionate tech geeks or premium customers… But Apple hopes to push the price down in the second generation of devices, which is in parallel development, to a more affordable price, like a high-end Mac computer, and hopes to attract a bigger user base.

This is where Foxconn comes in. According to AppleInsider, that firm “will focus on automating mass production and improving production rates to help lower costs.” 

The AppleInsider piece once again references an anticipated sky-high price for the first unit. They’ve got that coming in between $3,000 and $5,000. That said, a second piece on the headset from 9to5Mac brings that cost down considerably. They’ve got it sailing in between $2,000 and $3,000. That still sounds sky-high, unless you’re expecting $5,000, in which case — it sounds like a bargain. 

I’ll take seven.

Apple Services Hit With Global Glitches on Thursday

It was a tough afternoon for Apple services on Thursday. Lots of them. And seemingly everywhere. While various services on Apple’s System Status Page said things like “Users may have experienced a problem with,” and “This service may have been slow or unavailable,” AppleInsider went with a bit less sugar for its headline, “Nearly every Apple online service is down in ongoing global outage.” 

If you happened to visit Apple’s status page at the height of the trouble, the phrase “lit up like a Christmas tree” might have some to mind. Just under thirty Apple services are said to have been affected, including big ones like the App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV+, and- probably the most important one — Podcasts. Then there were the businessy/productivity services such as Apple Business Essentials, Apple Business Manager, Apple School Manager, iWork Collaboration, iWork for iCloud, and plenty of others.

I couldn’t get my classical piano Apple Music radio station to play so — yeah. Harrowing day. Well… Harrowing hour-or-so. Things blinked out about 3:55PM EST/12:55 PST. Everything on the status page was green again right around 5:00PM EST/2:00 PST.

Apple TV+ Announces the Return of ‘The Problem with Jon Stewart’

“The Problem with Jon Stewart” has at least six-more problems to tackle. On the same day as Stewart’s YouTube live stream, Apple TV+ issued a press release announcing a continuation of the show’s second season. 

I’m not sure they understand how TV seasons work. Then again, it’s not TV, it’s… whatever Apple TV+ is. 

Topics to be addressed in season-two include crimes and guns, defense policy, inflation, prison reform and rehabilitation, and the backsliding of democracy. Additionally, the release teases the show traveling abroad “for Stewart to speak with foreign policy leaders.” 

Of course, they won’t be foreign there, but… you get the idea.

The show starts up again one-week from today — Friday, March 3. Remaining episodes will stream one-a-week each Friday for the following five-weeks. 

MIB Original iPhone and ‘Undiscovered’ Apple-1 Up for Auction

And finally today, mint-in-box original iPhones may be the Apple-1 auction item of 2023: Rare, except for all the ones people find to sell. Now — news of an auction with both. On the heels of last week’s $63,000 iPhone sale, a piece from MacRumors says RR Auction has a “First Generation, Sealed Apple iPhone” up for bids. I’m not sure they know what they’ve got though — or how much they’re going for these days. The auction house puts the anticipated sale price for the untouched communicator at $20,000.

Heck, at that price — buy three. 

Now, I know I get sort of snide about the “ultra-rare” Apple-1 computers that go up from auction every 20-minutes or so, but the one RR has up for auction really is interesting. That’s because, until this year, nobody knew it was out there. According to MacRumors:

The Apple-1 for sale is “undiscovered,” as it was not on the known list of remaining Apple-1 devices until 2023. It was first used as a demonstration system at the Data Domain computer store in Columbus, Indiana in 1977. After that, it was given to the current owner.

Signed by Woz and restored by Apple employee #12 Daniel Kottke, the auctioneer expects the machine to fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000. 

The whole auction, dubbed “Steve Jobs and the Computer Revolution,” is full of interesting stuff. There are documents and business cards, scads of computers, and two artifacts that are decidedly early-1980s — an Apple Computer 25-Foot-Long Logo Kite and an Apple Computer Latch Hook Rug, both from 1983. The rug features Apple’s iconic six-color logo on a sort of beige background. Originally “sold through Apple’s 1983 Gift Catalog,” dig the original sales pitch:

Have hours of enjoyment creating your own latch-hook rug. Everything is included in your kit to produce a 100% polyester and acrylic rug that can also double as a wall-hanging. Imagine the compliments when friends discover that you did all the work!

Originally priced at $75, the auction house expects it to sell for more than $800. You will have to lie to your friends though about whether “you did all the work!”

The auction closes on March 16. More info is available at

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I talk over Morgan Stanley’s list of “idiosyncratic tailwinds” for Apple shares. Plus — we hit the RR Auction, talking about things we pretend we’re gonna buy. That is all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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