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« World Has 5.8 Billion Mobile Phone Handsets used by 5.0 Billion unique human beings, out of 7.4 Billion people alive | Main | iPhone Q4 Numbers? A good quarter in a bad year. Q4 unit sales up 5% but full year 2016 sales down 7% vs 2015 »

January 31, 2017


Peter F. Mayer

Please Tomi, let us know your views about the Nokia 6, it's success in China and possible upcoming smartphones.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Peter

Good early reception, is promising for the roll-out this Spring to most of markets where Nokia traditionally was/is strong brand. I am waiting to see the first full line-up of the first smartphones, which we should see in Barcelona in a few weeks. Then I'll have a far better understanding of what they're up to at HMD and can give some guidance. This first Nokia 6 was obviously their fastest-to-market rush-job just in time for Chinese New Year's sales last week. They had very nice initial success with that. I'd expect a relatively rapid roll-out of that model into wide sales from India to Africa etc.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Wayne Brady

It will be interesting to watch how this plays out. One of my children had her iPhone 6s stolen recently. I'm still paying for it for the next year. I considered the options of:
- have the child (she's an adult) lease her own iPhone
- buy used iPhone 5s
- buy inexpensive Android

If we'd have had a used phone market, we'd probably have went with the iPhone 5s. I just didn't feel comfortable buying from someone on the internet. A 3yr old iPhone can have a lot of life left in it...but it can also be a piece of crap. We really like and use iPhone specific services like "Find Friends", iMessage and iCloud. Not to mention that it's really easy to move to a new iPhone by restoring from an iCloud backup.

She has a job, she can pay for her phone...but this is the second time in her life she's lost/had stolen her iPhone. She just doesn't want to be responsible for something that expensive any more.

So, inexpensive Android is what she chose. We went with the Moto G4 with Amazon offers for $179 (32gig upgrade).

It will be interesting to see if real life markets spring up in the US where you can touch and feel a used phone before buying.

Wayne Brady

Last chance to get your guesses in before Apple releases their quarterly results. I'm hanging onto my 80M iPhone guess.

Expect Apple to be back to growth in everything except the iPad, but great sales for the iPad nonetheless.

While the iPhone 6s did barely outsell the iPhone 6 in Q4 last year, it was the first down year comparison the rest of the year. While some chose to interpret this as the long expected (hoped for) "peak iPhone" -- I do not. It was simply the hangover from the release of Apple's first large screen iPhones. The iPhone had 25% to 40% yoy growth per quarter of the iPhone 6 over the 5...much higher growth than the iPhone would be expected to have in a mature premium market segment. To the following year had very tough comparisons.

So while it is pretty much a given that we'll hear "Apple broke records" for the quarter, I'm most interested in their guidance for 1Q17. Apple has a terrific track record of making their guidance (or exceeding).

I'd love it, Tomi, if you had any insight on the model breakdown for the iPhone. Particularly I'm interested in the sales of the iPhone SE. $399 unlocked is the lowest price for a new iPhone by far. I believe you were rather enthusiastic about the volume of sales the SE would drive. I have no visibility into these numbers, and haven't read them anywhere else. They numbers certainly didn't drive gain in marketshare, but it certainly was to Apple's advantage to release this phone in a down year for their flagship.

I expect Watch sales to have been "great" - but no numbers released. Same for the AirPods (love love love my AirPods).

I expect Apple will address the decline of iPhone sales in China.


Technically Deloitte did not "count" 120M used smartphones sold. Their report was a prediction.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

Regarding Apple unit numbers:

So, 78.29M. Now, given 400M-ish global units, Apple moving average market share has grown to 14.8%. That is impressive... Until you look at the context.

Apples main rival, Samsung, had to recall their top-of-the-line smartphone due to exploding batteries. We knew Apple would get a big boost out of this. So it makes sense. It seems like for every time Apple needs the competition to stumble, they stumble. Every single time.

So, congrats Apple for yet another easy year. I look forward to the day when Samsung or any other high-end Android manufacturer hits a homerun and then DOESN'T trip while running... :)

Wayne Brady

I think you could criticize Apple for not taking advantage of Samsung's meltdown, but Apple's sales aren't due to Samsung's meltdown. Apple couldn't/wouldn’t make any more 7+ phones, I preordered mine the first day (mid September) and didn't get my iPhone 7+ until mid November. According to Cook, the iPhone 7 pair sold better than their internal estimates. There was no chance for Apple to respond to exploding Samsung Note 7'

According to Cook, the Android switchers to iPhone was the most ever in the qtr. He has been saying that for some time now so there continues to be a growth trend.

Apple became the world's largest smartphone maker by unit volume. THAT is due to the exploding Samsung phone debacle and won't stand.

Best Apple Watch sales, unit and revenue, ever. The flop continues.

ASP just shy of $700 per iPhone, Even though Apple put out a $400 iPhone SE. Most iPhone unit sales AND highest ASP. More than 9 years after launch, and years after the commodity competition have raced prices down to the bottom....Apple is putting up its best unit sales and ASP (more than 3 times the Android ASP). And this was achieved with a strong US dollar making the iPhone even more expensive everywhere else. 64% of Apple revenue comes from outside the US.

But iPhone marketshare globally continues to fall. Well, yes, there is that. That nine years into the iPhone era Apple is selling more iPhones at higher prices ever is not as important as how many dumbphone buyers become ultra cheap smartphone owners happened in the same time.



"But iPhone marketshare globally continues to fall."

At least you notice that. Don't delude yourself. This is a clear indicator that the only markets where Apple can play out their strength is the ones where they have been the top brand before.
We will see where this goes. Apple is and remains strongest in markets with broken competition where high costs are hidden in obtuse pricing models. But the fact is, if you go out on the streets here in Germany, you very, very rarely see iPhones. They are simply not mainstream enough. Most people carry medium priced Androids.

"And this was achieved with a strong US dollar making the iPhone even more expensive everywhere else."

It's just that this argument is 100% bogus. It didn't make the iPhone more expensive everywhere else, economics do not work like that that prices are adjusted to currency exchange rates. This only hit Apple's profit line, nothing else.

And Per is right: A large part of Apple's success in the last quarter was due to Samsung being a virtual no-show and some customers switching to Apple as a result.

About the Apple Watch: It's nice that there's no numbers, it probably means just that Apple sold double of virtually nothing - it's still an irrelevant market segment, the population at large has no interest in smartwatches and that won't change.

You know what will really become interesting? Watching the app market implode and the transition to web apps. That would kill the biggest lock-in factor Apple still has and that development is inevitable. The cost of a native app is 10-20x that of making a web app - most of that money is lost in the submission bureaucracy, btw. We already know that making apps to generate revenue is a failed business model, and that the only way for developers to get some money is contract work. Well, think again! We developers rarely see customers who are willing to acknowledge that high cost, they think they can have it for cheap, just like a web app where they can pay some fixed sum and afterward to some casual maintenance. Native apps are a cost driving factor that gets massively underestimated by many service providers. It's inevitable that this part of the market won't last long, as soon as web apps are 'good enough' the game will be over. But what if the smartphone just becomes a dumb terminal for web services? I wonder how that will affect the market, as it'd eliminate the biggest reason for sticking to one 'ecosystem'.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Wayne: "Apple became the world's largest smartphone maker by unit volume. THAT is due to the exploding Samsung phone debacle and won't stand."

Eh, no? Even with the exploding note, Samsung has sold how many units compared to Apple? Why are you telling lies Wayne? :)

Furthermore, there is heavy consolidation coming along in the chinese brands which Tomi will probably report on in the next quarterly report / 2016 summary. So, Apple is not just #2 currently - they are #3! Possibly even Samsung could be #2 if that consolidation is taken into account.

Sadly, I have lost hope for Sony to recover, ever. Great phones still - but their marketing is such stupid fucktards, that Sony can never gain much of traction. I'll keep buying as long as they produce, but fortunately I always have the option of switching to Nexus or any other high-end Android brand.

If you go Apple... You're stuck with Apple. For better and worse. :)


@Per: "Sadly, I have lost hope for Sony to recover, ever. Great phones still - but their marketing is such stupid fucktards, that Sony can never gain much of traction."

True. I think we can add HTC and LG to this list.

Both the HTC 10 and the LG G5 were good phones. But both LG and HTC had no marketing to speak of, and LG topped it all by sending faulty pre-production LG G5s to reviewers last year, probably just to make sure to get bad reviews. What a bunch of morons.

And now in 2017, the LG G6 will come - DRUMROLL - with a non-removable battery and the outdated Snapdragon 821 SoC. Just when you think that things cannot get worse, the idiots in charge find new ways to alienate their customers!

Wayne Brady

Apple is still #2 globally, selling more units than the top 2 Chinese combined (even after consolidations). Apple isn't the top brand in Urban China anymore, true. Apple still has a fantastic business in China.

I agree that Apple is going to continue to do best where it already does - the economies with large middle class populations. However, wherever the middle class rises (China recently and India/Brazil up and coming) the iPhone will do rather well. As such, Apple has nothing like the unit growth prospects of Android. This is why I already assume that ALL of the remaining dumb phone migration will go Android. So we can see that Apple will settle somewhere around 10% of the total global mobile phone know...what it's been headed towards for years now.

As for apps...that business continues to grow (for Android and iOS). Consider that Apple says it has 150M paying services users. That include iTunes, Apple Music, iCloud and App Store (and Apple Pay). So even Apple is saying that they have less than 1/3rd of their users buying apps (rough estimates attributing all 150M paying service users divided by iPhone install base).

That would support the "nobody uses apps" mantra...if even the iPhone has less than 1/3rd of it's base paying for apps (or monetizing from ads). And yet, sometime this year the size of just Apple's services business will be large enough to be a fortune 100 company. And it's growing rapidly. Cook estimates it to be a $50B/yr business in 2 years.

The entire Android handset business outside of Samsung isn't going to be as big of a business as Apple's services business.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


There is more to a market than profits. Apple is betting heavily on profits, margins and apps.

All three are fleeting, unforgiving things that will turn on Apple eventually.

Apple is like Cersei Lannister right now - all their assets right now will run out, the question is only when.

Android, meanwhile, is like Daenarys Targaryen - came from nowhere, grew strong elsewhere, and swallowed the land whole eventually.

John Phamlore

I, who have no inside information, have an unfailing crystal ball that I have been using to unfailingly predict who will continue to sell well in the smartphone business. And I have been sharing it for over 5 years.

Who has their own ARM SoC? That alone determines who will be the longterm winners and who will be the also-rans.

A company that doesn't have their own ARM SoC isn't a true smartphone maker, they are merely a reseller of Android and Qualcomm or MediaTek.

Wayne Brady

Terrible how short the life of companies that make money is.

Now we know that for the purposes of scoring the race on this blog, profits don't matter. But since you bring it up, let's discuss Apple's strategy for continuing to exist. Profits will be mentioned, but not in the context to say "Apple has won because of profits".

So you have this notion put for from the BEGINNING OF TIME, that Apple was short sighted in having a premium-only strategy. Where is the iPhone-Nano? Short sighted. 9 years and still running STRONG. An install base over a half billion. Install base still growing. ASP still growing.

But it's marketshare is falling.

It's installed base keeps growing.

But it's marketshare is falling.

But it's so in demand that it's ASP is still growing.

But it's marketshare is falling.

Just the revenue from the services Apple sells to it's existing customer base will be large enough to be a fortune 100 company this year.

But it's marketshare is falling.

Yes. Go ahead and set it to 10% and be done. The iPhone represents 10% of all mobile phones. But the "computer as a phone" customer base was tapped out for BOTH iOS and Android already. Growth is coming from the growth of the middle class in China, India and Brazil.

The iPhone isn't losing ground at all to Android in the market it competes in. Android has 4 times the installed base of the iPhone. Apple still generates double the revenue for it's developers (and that's only counting the App store revenue). There isn't going to be a migration away for support for the iPhone.

Web apps don't matter. They run on iOS just as they do on Android. And even on Google, apps continue to thrive.

There has been no abatement in the growth of the app economy. None for Android, none for iOS.

Rather that mining for profit in the low value, commoditized, no-margin cess pool of that part of Android market that is growing....Apple just finds more ways to please and profit from the middle class customers in the developed and developing nations.

Apple Watch - eclipsed all Watch companies in revenue (except Rolex) in it's first year. Had it's best ever quarter in units and revenue. That's some flop.

AirPods and Beats headphones. Selling phenomenally well, revenue not broken out. But Apple took 40% of the BT market with the release of the AirPods (along with it's Beats line).

iPad - a bigger business than the Mac even with it's multi-year slide.

iTunes and Apple Music - Apple saved it's iPod business with the iPhone.

Apple Pay - growing wildly

But the iPhone marketshare is falling. Yep. Apple could have done NONE of those other things, joined the commodity race, and WON all the rest of the Android business. Completely wiped Android off the board. And STILL not have as good a business as what Apple has with the iPhone.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


Again. Apple is Cersei Lannister. Noone playing the Game of Thrones seriously take Cersei seriously, because they all know her power will fade soon.

What's left are the fools blinded by her beauty and/or afraid of her wrath. Not good things to base your kingdom on. Fast forward five years, and let's see what happens then... :)

As for things like Apple pay - doesn't matter if 90% of consumers cannot use it. Apple Music - Inaccessible to 90% of the general populace. Airpods - Inaccessible. Apple Watch - Inaccessible.

Apple has painted themselves into a corner with their 500M iPhone users, and that base will start shrinking soon-ish. It is inevitable.

Web apps - Safari is the new IE6 [1], holding the technology back, but sooner or later killer apps will appear that require more modern browsers, and that will hopefully happen sooner this time. And if Safari does fix the stuff they should, then there will be little reason to choose Apple over Android.



"Web apps - Safari is the new IE6 [1], holding the technology back, "

I can agree with that.

I know of at least one client side JS Web App that runs on ALL PC OS', Linux, OSX, and Windows and also in Android. It runs on Firefox, Edge, and Google Chrome and all its derivatives. It is marvelous to see the same code run inside a browser on every PC or Android appliance. And the whole app will store locally in the browser and can run offline. It really works on an Android phone without an internet connection.

Alas, it really needs WebRTC sound. So, everything works on Safari, except for the sound and the offline part (I think), and it does not run at all on iOS. That does bring me back to the old IE6 days where your website JS would work on IE6 or on other browsers, but not both. Except, that this will not work in ANY way on iOS.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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