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« Smartphone Wars: Full Year 2015 and Q4 Numbers, first up: Huawei hits 108M for full year (secures 3rd ranking) | Main | My James Bond Selfie Collection Part 3 - At the end of 007 Selfies but does that include SPECTRE? »

January 08, 2016



About Lumia:
Microsoft Analyst Mary Jo Foley revealed that Microsoft has seen 200 million active Windows 10 devices, of which around 180 million PCs, 18 million Xboxes and 2 million smartphones.

This means Microsoft has seen 2 million 550/950/950XL activations and whatever WP8 devices were upgraded to Windows 10.
Given that the rest of their line-up is the 640/640XL plus devices that are 1 year+ old, another drop in market share this quarter would not be surprising.


I am not Tomi, but here is my take if you care about it.

> "Will Apple gain share 2015 over 2014?"

I don't think so. The first three quarters Apple rode the big screen wave so it sold more phones compared to the same quarter last year. The fourth quarter is the first where Apple had big screen devices last year, so no more big screen advantage compared to last year. That is why it is flat. And don't forget that the fourth quarter is much more important than the rest of the year for Apple. But I believe the market grew more than Apple's growth, so I believe Apple will shed market share for the entire year 2015.

> "Will the iPhone gain share in the 4th qtr?"

Absolutely impossible. The market grew while Apple stalled. No way the iPhone grows market share. Not in this world.

> "[...]Apple has no mid range, no cheap phones, and no ultra cheap phones[...]"

That is a completely wrong statement. Apple sells a lot of older versions for much cheaper than the last version. I think they still sell the iPhone 4S in developing countries. Anyway Apple sells a lot of older generation phones in the midrange or cheap categories.

abdul muis


"Cook would have put out a profit warning by now if their results differed significantly from the guidance Apple gave. And in that Guidance Cook said was an increase in iPhone sales."

Cook don't have to give a profit warning. There's no rule saying that he must do that. He could do anything to BLUFF for apple sake.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi everybody

On Apple. Yeah, its 'crunch time' and we have a few 'warning sign' news items that are possible. Its not possible for annual unit sales of iPhones to decline 2015 vs 2014 but now many analysts are warning, 2015 may have been the peak iPhone year, and thus 2016 would be the first year when annual sales would decline. Apple would have ways to mitigate against that possibility. But there are real warning signs now.

Its possible Apple records growth in iPhone unit sales from last quarter but doesn't hit the unit sales level of iPhones last year this same quarter. So calendar Q4 (Christmas quarter) 2014 iPhones sold a record 74.5 million units. Apple gave guidance that they expect this number to be beaten. Apple has not revised that guidance. So its going to be at least close and can be more. If, however, Apple reports less than 74.5 million, even if just slighly less, say 74.4 million, it would be a big shock to the confidence of the silly theories expecting perpetual growth out of iPhone unit sales.

If Apple reports less than 74.5 million iPhones, then a quarterly peak would have been experienced in 2014. But note, the 74.4 million iPhone unit sales level would not automatically mean a drop in Apple's annual market share. That depends on also the SIZE of the smartphone market for the Christmas quarter. The higher that number, the lower the iPhone market share would be, and thus also the annual market share. I said I expected the year to hit 1.55 Billion smartphones and then gave some corrections to that expectation that now I think its not quite that level but somewhat above 1.5B for the full year. But to get to that number, we do need to then get above 470 million smartphones sold for Christmas 2015. Note in Q4 of 2014 the Christmas sales were 377 million and just now in Q3, the total was 354 million. That is quite a big ask now. Huawei's growth was only modest from the first half to second half. Xiaomi overall sales numbers are flat year-on-year. Samsung is flat year-on-year or down, Apple this quarter likely flat. Its difficult to see where that 'explosive growth' would come from. We may see a modest Christmas quarter in total smartphone sales, by which Apple's market share could see growth for the year, while the overall unit sales this quarter would not match the year before.

Its thus more likely to witness peak iPhone unit sales quarter, than an annual market share decline. And then its interesting to see if there is a third sign of the end of the good times, what is Apple's guidance for the January quarter. There is a lot of news of a slowdown in iPhone sales, of phones piling up in the distribution channel, of some price cuts, of factories slowing or cancelling some shifts, and of component manufacturers reporting reduced business. All that would be consistent with a reduced demand for iPhone right now, suggesting also that a peak is about now being experienced, and Apple could give guidance that they expect their January quarter to not match year-on-year growth in iPhones and/or inventory buildup in the channel, that kind of news. Would also be a shock.

Where are the reasonable limits. The rough sales are in the 70s for iPhone. Its almost certain its not in the 60s, say 68M or 69M for the Christmas quarter becuase Apple would have warned about that. The exact number somewhere probably in the 70s but unlikely to pass the 80s. The annual market share, if it fell, has very likely fallen only by a fraction of a percent at most. I don't see any math supporting a whole point of market share decline, with the numbers we are now seeing for the Christmas quarter. I can see definitely a possibility for flat iPhone market share year 2015 vs 2014 or even a modest increase. That would also not be more than one point at most. But a good performance by Apple, combined by a weak Christmas period, could mean Apple ends up with as much as 16% annual market share, up by a point from 2014. Not what I predicted haha, but its definintely a possibility.

When I look at the various sources for the regional data, nothing suggests a strong Christmas quarter sales in smartphones, but many signs suggest sluggishness. We may well end up with the year having less than 1.5 Billion smartphones sold. But yeah, thats what its looking like to me. We'll know in a few weeks. Hold on tight...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Oh, sorry, forgot

So for 2016. if Apple now sees a dangerous sign of sudden collapse in confidence, and feel they want to restore iPhone to 'growth' in units, then the easy solution is the C models. Take the 5C and update that to the 6C. Keep it the 'small screen' form factor of 4 inch screen size and modest iPhone specs but adding some of the new tech of the latest 6/6S series. They could even split the launch cycle so that the 6C is announced in April-May and launched in last week of June, to become the twice-yearly launch cycle I have been suggesting they should do, as they now have more than one model released every year, anyway. Then they could balance out some of the volatility of the release cycle, with a Spring C model release and an Autumn flagship model launch.

If Apple does do the C model, then they could almost pick a unit sales level 'at will' where they want to climb, depending on how cheap they'd make the new 6C model(s). Expensive and not much of a gain to overall unit sales (but strong profits) or lower price, more popular sales, but less contribution to the profits. Don't expect a 300 dollar iPhone (unsubsidised price) but a 400 or 450 dollar iPhone 6C could be in the cards, to suddenly end the talk of iPhone unit sales having peaked and powering a new surge in iPhone unit sales for this year...

Thats what I meant, I do think this 6C strategy - ie what I argued years ago as the low-cost simpler smaller iPhone, the 'iPod Nano' idea, is due and that I expect them to launch that iPhone model this year, with more of a price gap to the flagships than they did with the 5S and 5C. But we'll see. If Apple has a great quarter again, say 79M iPhoen unit sales and they say its still going strong worldwide and there is no channel inventory build-up, and they break all profit records in Wall Street history haha, then why bother with the cheap iPhone strategy, eh?

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

To all (and Piot)

This story has been now redacted. I leave the original text but have put overstrike on the text so its clear it is not true.

Thank you Piot for noticing. I got confused by the slight difference in the numbers 61 million vs 61.1 million and didn't notice the year of the articles. Yes, I was reading one year old news. Its good that we have sharp-eyed readers. I'm sorry about the confusion, totally my mistake. I will monitor the space and report on Xiaomi when the official 2015 numbers come out haha...

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Per "wertigon" Ekström


"Where I am at odds (with some) is in admiring Apple's performance. It is ASTOUNDING to me that Apple could gain share against the whole market while participating only in the premium segment."

It is remarkable that they managed to get as far as they have focusing on a niche market.

However, given that they could've EASILY been at 30-40% market share, had they released a few mid-range models a few years ago... Instead they chose to go for profits over market share.

So, to put it in battle terms: Apple went out and fought a squadron of the Android legion. They won a flawless victory on the battlefield. Bravo.

Meanwhile the Android armada went in through the back, looted and razed their city, raped their women and killed their firstborn sons.

So while they did perform an AMAZING feat... It's a humiliating defeat, regardless, since the thing they *should've* spent all resources protecting... That's already burned down to the ground. They do not have the means to gain market share today. Thus they will linger as a defeated tribe, slowly fading over time.

That's why I'm not impressed by Apple. I can understand and respect their battle prowess - but in everything else their strategy has failed. Unfortunately.


@Wayne Brady:

"Where I am at odds (with some) is in admiring Apple's performance. It is ASTOUNDING to me that Apple could gain share against the whole market while participating only in the premium segment."

Yeah, that's the clueless one talking.

It's rather easy to gain a tiny bit of market share if a manufacturer brings its lagging product up to the level of the competition and makes it interesting again. That's all that happened here.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


Yes, but they need that market share, that is the problem.

BlackBerry made solid phones for years with the same strategy as Apple and look where that got them. Now granted, BlackBerry never had the scale Apple does. But let's look back at 2008 or 2009 - BlackBerry was still a vibrant ecosystem back then, with a future. Same thing could happen to Apple - being that small makes the Apple ecosystem *very* vulnerable.

Again, Apple have won the battle for their turf, but that turf is slowly getting poisoned by Android manufacturers polluting their water supply. The Apple ecosystem have little chance of long-term survival, and it will be evident a couple of years down the road.

Tomi T Ahonen


This is actually a long-standing discussion and debate on this blog going back ten years. I've argued long ago, and still believe, and many but not all agree with me, that the rough analogy of how the OS wars and ecosystem and apps will evolve with smartphones, will be similar to what happened in the PC world three decades ago. So early on, there were random apps to many platforms, some had better apps in one area, another had better apps in somehthing else. But as one platform got a dominating position, it would get essentially all apps, and the other platforms would see diminished offering. So with PCs for example, once the desktop OS wars were over, that Microsoft Windows won, and Mac was the small OS and IBM's OS/2 was ended, then almost any game was only developed for Windows. Macs had a few specialist pro areas like graphical industries with Quark Xpress etc, but most business apps were also primarily only on Windows.

This is the evolution we will see in the smartphone OS space as well, its already started. Even as iOS was there before Android, we already are past the point when there are more apps existing on Android and the gap is now growing in Android's favor. So Per was (I think) referring to that 'inevitable' shift where iOS becomes a niche OS with a limited selection of apps and Android becomes the mass OS where most apps exist.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen


Please. We've done the math on the supposed 94%. Its utter bullshit by Canaccord who want to prep up investor hopes on Apple. Its BAD MATH. Even their OWN NUMBERS say its impossible for Apple to generate 94% of smartphone profits, because they SAY that Samsung makes 11%. So 11% + 94% = 105%. Their MATH IS WRONG. Please don't bring up such idiot bogus numbers here, you know this, we've done that math already. Don't YOU start now to troll us, haha. This was settled months ago when they did that ridiculous 'report' that was widely ridiculed by all experts of the industry.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

Wayne !!!

What was that? You get to have your own opinions, you don't get to have your own facts. Nokia was doing just fine in its transition to smartphones - LED the industry (of major full portfolio manufacturers, obviously, not niche players) with RECORD profits in its smartphone unit - the only handset maker to run profits every single quarter of the economic crash - and LED all its rivals (full portfolio makers) on the RATE of transition to smartphones, the only one who was AHEAD of the industry average - until idiot Elop destroyed the business. Nokia had profits to far live through that transition, it was redy to launch the first MeeGo phones in 2010 until new CEO with a sabotage plan decided to postpone and destroy MeeGo as well.

No the facts are very clear. Nokia's smartphone unit produced an industry record in units sold, a Nokia record for revenues in the smartphone unit and a Nokia record for profits in the smartphone unit - then Elop destroyed it all. Totally not true that Nokia could not have afforded the transition. Its true that SOME rivals were in trouble like Motorola and LG at that time, and others were struggling like SonyEricsson but Nokia was fine.

Don't bring revisionist history here. I will never put up with that. These facts are clearly known and recorded.

Tomi Ahonen :-)


The N9 was running MeeGo Harmattan which still had more resemblance to Maemo (e.g. the DEB package format instead of RPM).
Later devices were expected to run 'proper' MeeGo.


Lullz is right. Here's the story in detail. I think Tomi shared the link in Twitter when the story broke out:

Earendil Star

Swipe UI? A skin over Maemo? A maketing gimmick the reason to postpone the launch?

The real problem was that at the end of 2010 THT Elop the Flop and MS Ballmer had already decided to kill the platform. It was part of the new MS "devices and services" ambition. Why did Flop badmouth Nokia's products if not to promote the at the time non-existing WP platform? The WP7 (P)OS, with the obsolete WinCE kernel, that was years behind Maemo/Meego? The (P)OS that was hastily replaced with the (once again) transitional WP8 platform, while waiting for W10, the real thing, just barely out in 2015!?!???

The Dark Side is trying to raise its head again in trying to rewrite history. But it won't succeed as we'll provide the Light.


@Earendil Star
Did you read the "Story of Nokia MeeGo" link that N9 posted?
Launching MeeGo in 2010 would mean launching with "Simple Dali UI" - probably the worst of the three in the pack. The original Harmattan UI (that SHOULD have launched in 2009 but was abandoned because the new UI leadership had zero clue what it was all about) was abandoned in - yes - 2009. The Columbus product was supposed to launch early 2010 but it was killed in the same process. That put real effort on slide-out-QWERTY N9-00 (or Dali, or N950, if you wish) and it was using the simple Dali UI. Now the Dali UI was no better than the Symbian^3 UI of Nokia N8 for which you can read the reviews from the web, including Tomi's review in this very blog when he gave his review of the Nokia E7. Trust me on this one, although Tomi loved the form factor, N9-00 was not going to be a hit product.

But Elop did not kill Simple Dali UI. The Swipe UI BEGAN development in August of 2010, before Elop took helm at the Nokia. If Elop REALLY wanted to kill MeeGo he should have launched the N9-00 with Simple Dali UI in late 2010 as planned. The tech site reviews would have slaughtered the phone. as thick, heavy and difficult to use. On the other hand, the Swipe UI was FAR from ready by the end of 2010 (and frankly required the curved glass of N9-01), which makes it hard for Elop to have launched the N9-01 (or Lankku if you like it better) with Swipe UI even if he wanted to.

Wayne Borean

Oh crap, the OS Wars have broken out again. To correct some really bad information:

1) Apple would have been profitable competing against Microsoft in the computer market after 1995 if they had have had a decent marketing plan, like the one Jobs implemented when he returned WHICH MADE APPLE PROFITABLE WITH 2% of the market.

2) The problems at Blackberry (RIM) had little to do with market share, but rather came from spending too much time and money on the Playbook, instead of their core market (mobile).

3) Nokia has been covered.

4) Microsoft didn't suddenly come out with a 'Devices and Services' idea under Ballmer, the idea dates back to the infamous 'Roadkill on the Information Superhighway' memo. I've posted links to it before, this time you can find it yourself.

5) Android is not MSDOS or Windows. Google does not make direct profits from Android. Google does not have the same Monopoly power that Microsoft had, forcing computer makers to pay for copies of DOS and/or Windows even on computers which had OS2, BSD, Linux, CP/M, DRDOS, GEM, etc. installed. This makes a shift away from Android fairly easy as it won't involve paying for two operating systems per device.

6) Apple is not overpriced compared to the competition. I've debunked this many times. When you compare exact features, Apple is within 5% of the competitive price, and is most often lower priced (about 60% of the time I last checked).

7) Apple does make higher profits in their smartphone division than Samsung appears to. Everyone else in the market is a rounding error compared to the two giants.

If we followed the arguments made in the comments here, and applied them to the automotive industry, Continental Engines would OWN the power plant market for cars, with Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Fiat-Chrysler, etc. stopping production of their own engines.

I knew Continental Engines quite well. I helped them with catalytic converter designs for several motors, and spent hundreds of hours working with their engineers. The company still makes great motors, but is a shadow of its former self. Note that I used 'knew' because I've been on disability for the last ten years, and the senior people I used to deal with would have most likely retired by now. It was a pleasure working with them.

My point being, taking one point, like OS market share, and assuming that IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, is stupid. The same applies to PROFITS.

You have to take a broad view of the market, products, marketing, and economy.

Which reminds me - Tomi, is there any evidence that the Bond Phone helped sales of the Sony Experia Z5? Inquiring minds want to know!

Per "wertigon" Ekström


"1) Apple would have been profitable competing against Microsoft in the computer market after 1995 if they had have had a decent marketing plan, like the one Jobs implemented when he returned WHICH MADE APPLE PROFITABLE WITH 2% of the market."

Nope. The only thing that saved Apple at that point was that MSOffice - THE Office Suite I might add - turned up at the Mac, suddenly making Macs competitive in office space again.

Apple got a much needed cash- and software injection at the time. Marketing cannot save you if your product is unusable, and before MSO, the Mac was unusable for a large majority of people. Simple as that.

"5) Google does not have the same Monopoly power that Microsoft had"

No, but they do have the same synergy effects that Microsoft had. Only stronger, because their OS is on ten times the number of devices - or even more.

"6) Apple is not overpriced compared to the competition. I've debunked this many times. When you compare exact features, Apple is within 5% of the competitive price, and is most often lower priced (about 60% of the time I last checked)."

Apple is not overpriced, agreed - but they are expensive and very much a luxury item/brand. And that "luxury" part will diminish as they start becoming more and more fringe. Mobile will converge to Android and Android compatibility will become increasingly important.

"My point being, taking one point, like OS market share, and assuming that IT IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, is stupid. The same applies to PROFITS."

True, true. But when you are selling a platform, market share is the BIGGEST factor in gaining and keeping mindshare, especially among developers.

Apple is selling a platform - an ecosystem - that is at this point slowly dropping to the single digits market share percentage. That hurts their mindshare quite a bit, and in turn, will hurt their profitability and their viability as a platform maker.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


The advantages you mention are all superficial. Looks great on paper - but hey, if technical merits were the deciding factor, UNIX would've long since crushed Windows in the server space and Amiga would've been the leading computing platform today since it was the most technicly advanced platform for it's time.

The fact of the matter is, Apple will need that ecosystem. You can deny it all you want, but it doesn't make it less true. History has proven it, and time will prove it again. Might take a few years before it becomes evident however. :)

Per "wertigon" Ekström

*Apple will need that Marketshare, I meant of course.

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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 Helsinki 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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