It's Friday. As the week winds down, thoughts turn to relaxation and for many of us, playing with our new iPhone 5. Sales of the device, as everyone knows by now, are phenomenal.Good Friday for Apple
Japanese carriers KDDI and Softbank Corp. have even been grumbling that they had already run out of stock earlier this week, as reported by Reuters. Little surprise, as within an hour of online pre-sales, Apple and US carriers began pushing back deliveries to three weeks or more; the early birds receive their deliveries today. There were still phones in Apple stores and at some carriers earlier this morning, although lines had been forming for a while so don't expect to find one at this point, as reported by WSJ, FT, and Reuters.
All of the iPhone 5 hype and tremendous volume of sales, is putting Apple in line for one of the biggest tech sector 4Q12 sales records according to many analysts (such as Forbes). What this means in terms of global mobile market share for Apple is an amazing and rapid ascent from 0% in 2007, to a forecasted 15% by the end of this year, according to the same Forbes article and analysis. Simply put, that is a tremendous amount of hardware.
As we discussed in last week's iPhone 5 review, there is an important trickle-down effect that warrants notice. 4G LTE is finally here for iPhone fans in the US, and already available from competing phones. But emerging markets are only just transitioning from 2G. Consumers in emerging markets are price-sensitive and eager for the lower-priced early smartphones; an obvious second-life demand opportunity for these devices.Sony debuts new PlayStation 3 for 4Q12
Meanwhile, adding to CE market excitement, earlier this week at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony debuted it's latest gaming device, the sleek and redesigned PlayStation 3 that is set to hit markets the end of September, in time for the 4Q12 holiday start. This new home gaming device will provide an important sales and market opportunity for Sony, who, as many others, has been caught up in the brutal TV problems this year. A hot device to lead sales for the last quarter will certainly help Sony's bottom line as it, like Apple, continues to wrestle with Samsung in a number of CE markets.
The problem is that the gaming sector has also been facing a slow-down, to the tune of roughly 30% year-over-year for 1H12, according to recent research by ABI. So, while Sony is releasing its well reviewed slim PlayStation3 later this month, Nintendo has also announced the release of its next generation gaming console, Wii U, due out mid-November in the US and EU and in December in Japan (see CNN's review). But as the ABI research points out, while these new devices may be compelling, they are also marking a late-stage iteration of the platforms which, by historical standards, marks the end-stages for growth. Certainly, the lagging 1H12 data confirm this.
4Q12 and 2013 growth?
While the smartphone market continues to go nowhere but up, fast, there are lingering questions for other semiconductor and electronics market sectors. Not only do we need to see some real innovation and competitive gaming devices to lure CE device purchases beyond smartphones and tablets, we also need to hope that the great interest in the latest smartphone releases trends over to pick up the Ultrabook market for the PC sector. Presently, the PC market continues to depress overall global semiconductor sales expectations for 2012, unless we really see something phenomenal coming out in the next month with the anticipated announcement of Apple's iPad mini (or whatever it will be and be called) as well as holiday interest in the latest wave of Ultrabooks. Hopefully, iSuppli's downgrades to -0.1% for semi's 2012 chip market sales will not be that bad, but we will happily take their 9% growth for 2013!