Home Telecoms & NBN Yet another iPhone ‘super-cycle’ on the way, 2017 will be BIG

Yet another iPhone ‘super-cycle’ on the way, 2017 will be BIG

The Australian (and presumably global) smartphone market is about to explode with yet another iPhone super-cycle, with Augmented Reality the new battleground as 1 in 3 already use AR apps – and more to come.

Apple’s reality is about to get massively augmented, with the rising tide set to lift all boats, whether iBoats, Androids or others.

The news comes from emerging technology analyst firm, Telsyte, and its latest study, which states: “Australian smartphone sales are on track for a strong calendar year with booming first half sales set to continue into the second half of the year."

The findings come from Telsyte’s “Australian Smartphone & Wearable Devices Market Study 2017-2021,” on sale to relevant parties at relevant prices, which shows “4.4 million smartphones were sold during 1H 2017, up 16% compared to H1 2016".

Now, while Telsyte reports that “Android smartphones held market leadership (55% share) with the top three Android vendors being Samsung, Huawei and Oppo", it also believes that “Apple will emerge as market leader in the second half of 2017, when it is expected to expedite the release of an 8th edition iPhone to feature alongside the iPhone 7S & iPhone 7S Plus".

Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said: “The arrival of at least three new iPhones, as well as the long-held strategy of keeping older models available at lower prices, will help Apple target its loyal customer base.”

Of course, you don’t need to be an analyst to make that prediction – history tells you this is the likely result, but it is handy to be an analyst when making predictions on figures, with Telsyte estimating “around 4.7m smartphones will be sold in 2H 2017, a result that could see Apple beat 2014 sales when it first released the larger format iPhone 6".

If that is the case, Android boosters who hope against hope that one day Android might outdo Apple in the profits, loyalty and super-cycle stakes will once again have reality slam them in the face, but it’s important to note that this is my observation, and not Telsyte’s.

Indeed, Telsyte puts its formidable analyst skills to good use in delivering more on the facts front rather than some of my feelings, and shares by it “believes a number of factors will drive iPhone sales”, including:

  • Almost 1 million active iPhones in Australia will not receive the latest iOS 11 update made available in September 2017, leaving models older than the iPhone 5s unsupported.
  • The iPhone repeat purchase intention in Australia as measured by Telsyte is at an all-time high: 93%, compared to the second highest, Samsung with 74%.
  • Aging handsets are creating pent-up demand, with nearly 1 in 4 iPhone users using an iPhone that is three years or older.
  • Aggressive marketing and larger data cap offers by mobile service providers. Telsyte estimates up to 65% of iPhone sales in 2H 2017 will be via mobile contracts, compared to around 50% in previous iPhone “S” model years.
  • The inclusion of substantial new features in the field of Augmented Reality (AR) and AI capabilities that will attract upgraders.

So, what of Augmented Reality, the next smartphone battleground?

Telsyte’s research finds that “1 in 3 Australian smartphone users have tried ‘AR-like’ features on their smartphones which includes the popular mobile game Pokémon Go as well as Snapchat and Facebook photo filters".

The company is also of the belief that “these two categories (games and social) will be the most popular initially for AR, with navigation, education, shopping/retail and communications all likely to get early interest from app developers".

Telsyte senior analyst Alvin Lee, no known relation to Stan Lee but still an amazing-lee good fellow, said: “The release of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore is expected to support more advanced AR applications, driving awareness and usage which could rapidly expand in 2018.”

Careful use of words like “could” is safer than making absolute proclamations in the analyst business, and the journalist business too, but with AR finally looking really good at mixing up reality in ways that were once but the domain of science fiction writers, the rest of 2017, 2018 and the rest of the decade have very augmented prospects for being technologically amazing.

Naturally, we have to hope that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un doesn’t spoil planet Earth for us by provoking US President Donald Trump into blowing the hermit kingdom to kingdom come, which would have a pretty damn adverse effect on companies like Samsung who remain major Apple suppliers (and competitors), but we can just hope that reality remains strictly of the virtual variety.

So, with Telsyte estimating “more than half of iPhones in Australia are currently capable of supporting Apple’s current ARKit, compared to less than 10 per cent of Android smartphones for recently announced Google’s ARCore”, Apple’s reality looks set to be dramatically more augmented than Google’s.

That said, more Android models are expected to gain support in coming months, adding to the ongoing battle for smartphone supremacy, but as always, it seems to me at least that Google is perennially fighting from behind and catching up to Apple, with Apple the market leader striving to and thriving from thinking different.

Here’s more detail on “The Telsyte Australian Smartphone & Wearable Devices Market Study 2017-2021.”

It is billed as a comprehensive study which provides subscribers with:

  • Smartphone market sizing estimates, platform and vendor market shares and forecasts;
  • Smart wrist-based wearables market sizing estimates, platform and vendor market shares and forecasts;
  • Smart location-based item tracker market sizing estimates and forecasts;
  • End user trends across devices, application usage, platforms and operators;
  • Purchase intentions and acquisition channels;
  • Strategic analysis of market trends and issues; and
  • Device profiles and Telsyte analyst ratings of tested devices.

Telsyte explained that it “measures smart wearable devices in the Telsyte Australian Smartphone & Wearable Devices Market Study 2017-2021 as computing accessories worn on a user’s wrist typically paired and controlled via a smartphone. Examples includes products from Adidas, Apple, Asus, Fitbit, Garmin, Huawei, Jawbone, LG, Microsoft, Motorola, Nike, Pebble, Samsung, Sony, TomTom and others".

In preparing its study, Telsyte used:

  • Telsyte’s Mid-Year Smart Device Survey conducted in August 2017 with a representative sample of 1056 Australian respondents, 16 years of age and older. An additional 338 Australian respondents, 16 years and older, were surveyed to septically determine smartphones, smart wearables and tablets purchases made between 1 January to 30 June.
  • Telsyte’s annual Digital Consumer survey conducted in November 2016 with a representative sample of 1060 respondents, 16 years and older.
  • Interviews conducted with executives from service providers, network operators, manufacturers, retailers, financial analysts and channel partners.
  • Financial reports released by service providers and manufacturers.
  • On-going monitoring of local and global market and vendor trends.
  • Analyst reviews of leading smartphone and wearable devices.

Finally, Telsyte advises that it “measures sales of devices (“sell out”), not shipments or sales to retailers or carriers (sometimes called “sell-in”).

The company believes this is a more accurate measure of performance of products in a marketplace, and further advises: 

  • Telsyte does not rely on disclosure from vendors or general assumptions made for large multinational companies that do not release local market data.
  • Telsyte uses a comprehensive methodology that includes surveys of consumers, discussions with vendors, carriers and their partners, retailers, and financial analysts. In addition, public financial results from manufacturers and carriers are used.
  • Telsyte tests a wide range of products in real life usage scenarios and conducts satisfaction and repeat purchase surveys with large and representative samples of Australian smart device users.
  • Telsyte is a pioneer in measuring and reporting smartphone sales in Australia and has been providing insights on mobile technologies since 2006.

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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.