The buzz barometer known as Gartner lowered expectations for iPhone 4S sales in the first quarter of 2012, indicating a sales lull in anticipation of the iPhone 5.
As we all waited in vain for the iPhone 5 last Summer, you will recall that iPhone 4 sales slumped, with many Apple enthusiasts and prospective buyers opting to wait for the new iPhone rather than risk buying the iPhone 4 just ahead of the iPhone 5. It appears that rumors of a June iPhone 5 release are affecting iPhone sales again.
Gartner, a technology analyst who forecasts trends in the technology marketplace, is anticipating a decline in iPhone 4S sales for the first quarter of 2012, compared to the blockbuster sales of the 4S in the fourth quarter of 2011. According to IBTimes, Gartner “expects Apple’s market share to slip for a couple of quarters as novelty of the iPhone 4S wears out.”
It’s worth noting, however, that the decline in iPhone 4S sales off its norm establishes in Q4 of 2011 should by no means be seen as alarming to Apple shareholders, which manages to remain in the top three of mobile phone manufacturers, in spite of offering only a few smartphone models, none of which are considered a low-end “dumb phone” like many of the models that bolster sales for Nokia and Samsung. According to Forbes, “Apple clocks in at 19 percent of all smartphone sales, making it the leader in the rapidly growing smartphone market. The company captured 23.8 percent of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2011.”
Analysts even go so far as to say that “Surging demand for the iPhone 4S and rival smartphones is helping offset the impact of the global economic crisis on consumer spending.”
Absent from the Garner report is any explicit mention of the swirling iPhone 5 release rumors, which are pegging its release for June. While impressive iPhone 4 sales in 2010 and 2011 were unusually extended by the addition of Verizon and the fact that the iPhone 4 was an overhaul of the previous 3GS model, the iPhone 4S’s profile in the smartphone market may not be as resilient in the long term, due to the fact that it is perceived by consumers as a refresh of the iPhone 4 and a stand-in for the highly anticipated iPhone 5. This fact, above all else, may be reason enough for Apple to expedite the release of the iPhone 5, making an announcement in June rather than waiting for October.
That being said, there is no reason to believe that Apple will give up on aggressively marketing its current flagship iPhone.
Considering that Apple sold 35.5 million units in Q4 — a 121.4 percent increase — and an impressive 7.4 percent share of the mobile phone market, there is no reason to believe that iPhone 4S sales will fall flat in the Spring, and may even be buoyed by the rising excitement over the iPad 3 release, which is bound to have some residual sales impact on all Apple products.
By Michael Nace