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Analyst: iPhones still top dog among US carriers

updated 01:30 am EDT, Fri April 4, 2014

Revamped HTC One M8 knocks Galaxy S4 from second at Verizon

The iPhone -- specifically, the iPhone 5s -- has been the top seller at all four major US carriers since its introduction, a trend that continued in March according to figures compiled by Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley. The year-old Samsung Galaxy S4 took second place among three of the four carriers, though it was knocked out of second at Verizon by the new HTC One M8. The S4 took third at Verizon, with the company's Note 3 phablet taking third at AT&T and Sprint, while the LG G2 took third at T-Mobile.

The strength of the HTC One M8 and the likely upgrading to be done when the Galaxy S5 arrives at all carriers may imperil the iPhone 5s' top ranking next month, reports AppleInsider. However, Apple is likely to retain its crown of top-selling vendor in the US throughout the year overall, particularly with the expected fall arrival of the next-generation iPhone 6.

"We believe Apple will win back meaningful high-end market share during H2/C2014," Walkley told investors, "based on our belief new iPhones with larger screen sizes could create a strong upgrade cycle among Apple's loyal base." The iPhone 5c, normally selling in third place in some if not all of the US carriers' charts, has absent from the top three positions since January -- potentially an indication of lower sales of the unit, but possibly just reflective of more and newer competition from flagship Android models like the Note 3 and Galaxy S5.

Walkley believes, however, that Apple still has room for growth in the US market even before it refreshes its iPhone models. He says that more customers are signing contracts with carriers that include early-upgrade options in place of lower up-front costs from subsidies, a factor that could benefit Apple with its notoriously loyal audience. "With our surveys indicating strong customer loyalty for the iPhone, we believe Apple could strongly benefit from a broader adoption of these early upgrade plans ... further, with these plans facilitating annual upgrades to new smartphones, we believe these plans in the coming years could in fact boost iPhone replacement sales and help Apple grow sales in the more saturated and mature developed countries that sell a greater mix of high-end smartphones."

Canaccord is maintaining its "buy" rating for AAPL and also maintained its $600 price target, which Walkley noted did not account for the possibility of new Apple products -- something CEO Tim Cook has promised will happen sometime this year.

by MacNN Staff



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