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Predictions: MBA sales, future products, smartphone growth

updated 12:59 am EDT, Wed July 18, 2012

Analysts putting out last Q2 calls and predictions

Despite a mixed consensus on how well Apple may do when it reports its calendar second-quarter (fiscal third-quarter) revenues next week, analysts are throwing in their final predictions on both the financial outcomes and what the near-term future holds for the company. Neilsen says Apple and Google will continue to eat the lunch of the other smartphone OSes, Piper Jaffray doubles down on the Apple HDTV and iPad Mini, while Gartner foresees a substantial growth in ultraportables.

A report from CNet quotes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa as saying that Apple's recently-refreshed MacBook Air will continue to lead the "ultrabook" sector next year. Kitagawa says such "ultramobile" notebooks will ship about 10.7 million units this year, and as many as 17 million in 2013.

Ultramobiles currently make up about five percent of total notebook shipments, including the MacBook Air, "which is a big portion of that five percent," he added. Kitagawa would not say if he meant more than 50 percent by the term "big portion." The site notes that IDC, another market research firm, had initially predicted that just one million ultrabooks (not counting the MacBook Air) would ship in 2012, but later retracted the prediction.

Piper Jaffray's Mac analyst Gene Munster has told attendees at a Fortune magazine-sponsored conference that he believes the speculation swirling around the so-called "iPad Mini," reported to be a nearly eight-inch tablet that may or may not carry the "iPad" branding and could be positioned as a more purely media-consumption and gaming device. Munster noted that if Apple does market it as a smaller iPad, it would be one of the very rare occasions where the company has specifically reacted to competition, as well as a clear break from Jobs' views on the topic of smaller tablets.

However, such a move would help prevent Apple's tablet share from slipping if 7-inch tablets such as Google's Nexus 7 start to achieve popularity. Thus far, 7-inch tablets have not found a strong foothold in the market, despite efforts by RIM, Samsung, HP, Amazon and others. Apple currently has over 90 percent of the 10-inch tablet market, but is believed to have under 80 percent of the overall market due to the proliferation of 7-inch tablets, though actual sales of the devices has been anemic.

Munster also reiterated his belief, based on talks with component manufacturers, that Apple will eventually produce a branded HDTV set (which currently lacks a name or codename that would distinguish it from the Apple TV set-top box). "It's just a function of time," he said, predicting that the set might not launch until after holidays, pushing it into 2013. "Some suppliers are more open in talking about [the HDTV] than others," he said. Munster says initial versions will likely rely on the existing Apple TV set-top box, but future editions will have the technology built-in.

Asymco's Horace Dediu agreed with Munster on the expectation of an Apple TV, and predicts that whatever the device will offer, it will have a big impact on the entire industry, noted Mashable. Speaking with Munster at the same conference, he compared Apple's alleged entry into the industry as akin to what apps like Instagram did to the mainstream the app market. Dediu said that what Apple will bring to the TV space is the acceptance of apps as a part of the TV experience, bringing the iOS market to the living room in a much larger way than current efforts, and further disrupting commercial and cable networks. Munster expects the Apple HDTV to push the stock price substantially higher.

Finally, media rating company Nielsen's latest numbers show no severe changes in the near-duopoly of the smartphone market shared almost entirely by Apple and Google. Its calendar Q2 figures estimate that both Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS continue to grow, mostly at the expense of smaller rivals like RIM and Nokia rather than taking from each other. Nielsen says that as of June, nearly 52 percent of smartphone owners had an Android-running handset, while 34.3 percent favored iOS. The remaining 14 percent were divided among various others, with BlackBerry a distant third at 8.1 percent.

The company said that the news for RIM is even worse among buyers who recently acquired their smartphones in the last three months. Of that group -- which is considered a leading indicator of future trends -- 54.6 percent chose Android and 36.3 percent chose iOS, growing both camps. BlackBerry was chosen by just four percent of recent buyers, nearly half the percentage it currently has, with five percent choosing one of the other alternative operating systems.

Nielsen noted that two-thirds of phone buyers are now choosing smartphones, and that despite Apple's lack of dominance from an OS perspective for the industry, it was far and away the most popular single brand, having more than double the marketshare of its nearest rival (Samsung), 34 percent to 17 percent. Apple's sales were roughly equal to all models of Android handsets from HTC, Motorola and RIM put together, and Apple was only outgunned when Samsung and all other Android handset makers' sales were combined. Windows Mobile and Windows 7 Phone were seen to have a combined share of around 4.3 percent of smartphone sales.

by MacNN Staff



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