iPhone Losing its Dominance in “Trend-Setting” Asian Countries

iphone-4-8-inchReuters has a story on how the iPhone’s starting to lose its once dominant position in Asian markets like Hong Kong and Singapore due to much better competition in the market than there was a few years back. The Wall Street Journal ran a similar themed story a couple of days back titled “Has Apple Lost Its Cool to Samsung?” Both stories cite anecdotal evidence as well as numbers from stat companies to put forward their point.

Reuters characterises this phenomenon as “iPhone fatigue”:

Apple Inc’s iconic iPhone is losing some of its luster among Asia’s well-heeled consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong, a victim of changing mobile habits and its own runaway success.

Driven by a combination of iPhone fatigue, a desire to be different and a plethora of competing devices, users are turning to other brands, notably those from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, eating into Apple’s market share.

While a major reason for Android’s huge marketshare is said to be the availability of really cheap devices, Singapore is a country with a fairly high per-capita income, where cheap phones aren’t unlikely to make a substantial impact on marketshare. In fact, in 2010 Singapore had the highest number of iOS users per capita than any place else in the world.

Those insanely high numbers are on their  way down though:

StatCounter gs.statcounter.com, which measures traffic collected across a network of 3 million websites, calculates that Apple’s share of mobile devices in Singapore - iPad and iPhone – declined sharply last year. From a peak of 72 percent in January 2012, its share fell to 50 percent this month, while Android devices now account for 43 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in the same month last year.

Keep in mind that web usage shares tend to be skewed towards iOS and aren’t reflective of actual marketshare numbers, so the actual Android numbers might be even higher.

The situation’s very similar in Hong Kong:

In Hong Kong, devices running Apple’s iOS now account for about 30 percent of the total, down from about 45 percent a year ago. Android accounts for nearly two-thirds.

Developers are also reportedly changing their “iOS first” policy to give more priority to Android, or straight-out develop an Android version of their app first:

Ken Yarmosh, chief executive of Savvy Apps in Washington, D.C., said his company began by making apps for Apple’s iOS operating system but lately has been focusing on Android as Samsung devices have become more prevalent, especially among his own company’s testing devices.

“There was a major flip—it was Apple, then if you have money build for Android,” Mr. Yarmosh said. “Now it’s Android first, or Android only.”

So how have things changed since, say, 2010?

Samsung’s smartphone division has grown pretty huge, making very popular devices and earning huge profits every quarter. WSJ gives credit to Samsung, and indirectly Google’s ability to iterate really quick, and bring Android on par, and in some matters even exceed, iOS. This coupled with Samsung’s huge marketing budgets that fund campaigns like the anti-Apple ads, and its manufacturing prowess, which even Apple depends upon, have really been responsible for a large part of the growth Android has seen.

Apple’s still seeing strong demand for the iPhone, having sold record units in the last quarter, but its growth rates are slowing, which seems to be worrying investors. Although Apple’s main objective isn’t to appease investors, it does have to figure out a way to get its next set of users, which is why the company’s been focusing a lot on China lately. The rumored cheaper iPhone would be a key part of how this pans out.

Via: Reuters, WSJ

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