Wednesday, 11 June 2008 20:33

1.31m iPhones predicted to ship in Australia over 5 years

Analyst firm IDC has crunched the numbers and not only predicts relatively big sales of the iPhone down under, but says that by 2012, 50% of mobile devices that ship in Australia will be “converged devices”. Nokia remains top dog today, but will the iPhone prediction be music to Apple’s 3G-upgraded iPod enhanced ears?

When you think about it, all mobile phones sold in Australia today are “converged devices”. They all usually offer telephony, an address book, a clock, alarm clock, calendar, note taker, SMS messaging and a camera as basic features.

More advanced smartphones will add a web browser, email, FM radio, the ability to run third party programs, video recording, video calling and more, while even smarter smartphones are adding things like GPS, and obviously IDC is talking about “smartphones” when it talks about converged devices, even though, as I said, all phones are converged devices today.

That’s unless you’re talking about the Hop On ‘anti iPhone’ HOP1800 released in the US which is just a phone and nothing else - but obviously IDC aren’t talking about that.

So, while IDC are making big predictions for the future, what actually happened in Q1 2008?

Well, in that Q1 ’08 timeframe, 2.02m mobile devices where shipping to Australia, and of that 2m figure, 0.57m of those were converged devices. Hey, I’ll bet there were a few imported iPhones in that batch too, pre the just announced iPhone 3G replacement.

But now that the iPhone 3G is nearly here, IDC’s predicting that Australians will snap up 1.31m of them over the next five years, which is surely music to Apple Australia’s ears – and the ears of those at Apple HQ over in Cupertino.

Mark Novosel, Market Analyst, Telecommunications at IDC, gave some reasons why he thought his IDC prediction would come true, and he started with GPS saying that: “Australia's fascination with GPS show no signs of slowing. Consequently, Apple's new 3G iPhone has reacted to demand and will satisfy eagerly awaiting consumers”.

GPS on your phone certainly does rock – I’ve been testing out the Nokia N82, what with it’s cool 5 megapixel Carl Zeiss lens camera, real Xenon flash and candy-bar design. It has a built-in GPS, and it locked onto satellites even faster than my N95, which surprised and delighted me.

I’ll need to try it again over the next few days to see if that speed really is there, but wow. Having GPS on one’s phone is very cool and is fast becoming a must-have feature that your next phone will probably have, and if not, then almost certainly the one after that. 

So, what else did IDC’s Novosel have to say in Novoselling the bona-fides of his report to us all? And what about Nokia, which sells more Nokia phones in a week that Apple has sold of its iPhones since mid 2007? Please read on to page 2.

IDC’s Mark Novosel continued in his comments saying: "Being a HSDPA device with GPS, coupled with Apple's renowned design, the iPhone 3G will see strong initial demand and by the end of 2012 IDC expects Apple to have shipped in excess of 1.31M iPhones to Australia.”

Novosel went even further, suggesting that: “It wouldn't be unusual to experience stock shortages in the initial months after launch and given that the HTC Diamond and Blackberry Bold should be launching shortly after, frustrated consumers may quickly opt for other comparable devices."

But that’s not all. IDC said that “Pivotal features driving the converged device market include user interface design and the use of touch-screens”, with Novosel specifically adding that: "People are after an immersive, rich and highly interactive mobile experience."

Novosel continued: "It is no wonder we are seeing so much innovation centering around the user interface, with smooth flowing graphics, multi-touch and gesture-based control among the key innovations leading touch-screen user interface designs.”

So, what else did IDC’s Q1 2008 “Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker” also reveal?
Their insights are listed below:

- Y/Y Shipments increased 39.2%. Year-on-year total market shipments increased significantly from the same period last year.

Consumers are continuing to upgrade mobile devices more frequently in their quest to keep pace with technology. Australia's mobile replacement rate is expected to exceed 42.9% in 2008, up from 40.7% in 2007.

- Total 2008 shipments expected to surpass 2007. Q407 saw a rapid handset boom due to Telstra's Next G migration.

Consequently Q408 is expected to fall short of last year's highs, however full year 2008 shipments are expected to exceed 2007 by 6.4%, fuelled by a flurry of advanced and exciting new devices in the second half of the year and the launch of Optus and Vodafone's national 3G networks.

So, what about the iPhone 3G - and Nokia? Please read on to page 3.

- iPhone 3G to stir up the market. Apple's newly announced 3G iPhone is expected to take 7.38% of the converged device market by the end of 2012, as Australians continue to splash out on feature-rich converged devices.

Further portfolio diversification and revolutionary new models could see this figure [for the iPhone] surpassed.

- Nokia maintains market dominance at 51.9%. Despite only minor changes in its product portfolio and a slight slip in shipments, Nokia has managed to maintain market share above 50% for a second consecutive quarter.

Compact and stylish devices remained most popular, and three of the top five Nokia devices were converged, an increase of one from Q4 2007.

- GPS remains on top of consumers wish lists. Nokia's 6110 Navigator continues to outsell 99.4% of all mobile devices on the market, despite being available in Australia for almost a year.

Strong demand is expected to continue until the introduction of its successor, the Nokia 6210 Navigator, later this year. Other vendors such as HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are also focusing more on GPS-enabled devices.

So, despite the current rise in petrol prices, interest rates and the cost of goods in general, mobile phones and converged devices are still hot items, and are set to be very popular, desirable – and actually purchased and replaced by ever more consumers – for years to come!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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