Is iPhone 5 the beginning of the end for Apple?

Head to Head: Apple iPhone 5 Vs Samsung Galaxy S3 Vs Nokia Lumia 920

The Five Stages of Grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The Cupertino-based tech titan Apple Inc. is at the third stage currently.

The grief, of course, stems from the loss of a loved one – in Apple’s case, it is the loss of its beloved pole position in the global smartphone sweepstakes.

It’s no secret that Samsung now is – has been for some time now, actually – the clear leader in the smartphones domain, outselling its rivals by a hefty margin.

Head to Head: Apple iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung Galaxy S3 Vs. Nokia Lumia 920

Apple, on the other hand, became the leader by default in the first quarter of 2011 when Samsung’s surge from No. 4 saw leader Nokia’s share plunge below that of second-placed Apple. Soon enough though, Samsung overshot first Nokia and then Apple, and became the undisputed leader of the pack.

The South Korean giant hasn’t given up that position so far, apart from a brief flash in the fourth quarter of 2011, when the launch of the iPhone 4S saw Apple sales soar and Samsung’s stagnate.

According to statistics recently published by IDC, it’s really a two-horse race now between Samsung and Apple, with Nokia, HTC and Research in Motion clustered at the bottom, with less than 7 per cent market share each.

In fact, what once used to be Nokia’s claim to fame – a 33 per cent market share of the estimated $200bn smartphones market – is now Samsung’s, with Apple’s share falling to less than half of its arch rival’s in the second quarter of 2012.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 are already stratospheric – 2 million in 24 hours, says Apple – and it may just push Apple’s market share closer to Samsung’s, especially if, like during the previous iPhone launch, Samsung’s market share stays static.

However, not even die-hard Apple fans believe that the iPhone 5 can once again helped Apple reach the top of the phone pile. It is only logical to conclude that after a quarter of the predicted insane surge, iPhone 5 sales will see more rational growth.

With Samsung set to launch the Galaxy S4 in February next year, it could actually spell the beginning of the end for Apple.

The US tech giant, however, is still two steps away from accepting the fact that it is past its prime, and that that elusive pole position may never be its again – at least not in the foreseeable future.

Stage 1 - Denial: Apple was obviously in denial during the second quarter of 2011, when it lost its place at the head of the leader board to Samsung. ““With quarterly revenue growth of 83 per cent and profit growth of 95 per cent, we’re firing on all cylinders,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s charismatic CEO, said in the company’s Q2 results statement released on April 20, 2011. “We will continue to innovate on all fronts throughout the remainder of the year,” he promised.

Stage 2 - Anger: Walter Isaacson’s authorised biography of Steve Jobs offers an unprecedented look at the Apple co-founder’s battle-cry against Google, a company he thought was guilty of a “grand theft” when it launched its Android operating system, which competes directly with the iPhone and has surpassed it in popularity. “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” an angry Jobs is reported to have told Isaacson of the patent lawsuit Apple filed against cell phone manufacturer HTC. The lawsuits haven’t ended yet – in one of those, Samsung has already been ordered to pay $1.05bn by a US court although the South Korean firm is likely to contest the verdict and has sued back Apple at its home and elsewhere too.

Stage 3 - Bargaining: Apple is driving a hard bargain with its suppliers – sacking Google from the iO6 was just the tip of the iceberg. If rumours are to be believed (in Apple’s case, they have to be), it has negotiated like never-before with service-providers to keep the iPhone 5 prices below the $200-mark for the basic offering despite it being more expensive than the iPhone 4S.

Moreover, the launch event of the iPhone 5 was testimony to the fact that Apple was leaving no stone unturned in selling the device to millions of eager beavers. “Each and every year we introduce new versions with new features... each time setting the gold standard... the iPhone 5 is an absolute jewel. It is the most beautiful product we have ever made, bar none,” Apple’s senior vice-president Phil Schiller said at the event. “We’ve updated every aspect of the iPhone 5, everything has been enhanced,” he added. Last heard, he was still bargaining.

Stage 4 – Depression: As a psychologist of any standing will tell you, this is one of the most important stages of grief, and Apple is yet to reach it. It will, perhaps after the launch of Galaxy S4 next year, by which time its sales of the iPhone 5 would have eased out.

Stage 5 – Acceptance: It’ll take time for Apple to reach this stage – if ever. Many folks in the world never really accept their loss. Will Apple too live in the past? Or will it be magnanimous in defeat and admit that it failed to innovate fast enough? Here’s a lowdown of the iPhone 5 and how it stacks up against competition on various key features.

Click here to get a Head to Head comparison between Apple's iPhone 5 Vs. Samsung's Galaxy S3 Vs. Nokia's Lumia 920

As you’ll notice, Apple can no longer command the premium it used in pricing – the latest pricing seems to have been dictated by the Galaxy S3, and Apple seems to be following the lead.

The operating system is a subjective choice, but with the open-ended Android system, the number of free apps obviously offer far greater choices to users.

Apple has indeed increased the screen size, but still has the smallest display among the competition – not a very ‘leading’ feature at the moment.

While the three phones we’ve compared are more or less neck-to-neck in the remaining features, the one that clearly relegates the iPhone 5 to the backbench is the NFC – or nearfield communications. While both the Galaxy S3 and the Lumia 920 boast of NFC – which enables seamless tap-and-transfer of data and contactless transactions – and that’s something that Apple fans are not too kicked about.

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Is iPhone 5 the beginning of the end for Apple?


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