The United States Department of Defense on Friday approved the use of Apple devices running iOS 6 on its networks, Bloomberg reported. The iPhone will compete with BlackBerry 10 and Samsung KNOX devices, which received approval earlier this month. The Pentagon has continued to test alternative platforms to give employees flexibility when choosing a work phone. The DoD even has plans to create a mobile app store that can handle as many as 8 million devices. There are currently more than 600,000 mobile devices in use at the agency, 470,000 of which are older BlackBerry smartphones. There are currently more than 40,000 iPhones and 8,700 Android devices in use, however most of them aren’t connected to military networks except for testing purposes.
A new report suggests that prepaid smartphones are becoming more popular among consumers. According to research from NPD Group, 32% of all smartphones sold in the first quarter were prepaid devices, up from 21% during the same period in 2012. Samsung was found to be the most popular vendor of prepaid smartphones, accounting for 32% of sales in the first quarter. Handsets from LG made up 22%, Huawei 11%, and Apple and HTC tied at 8%. Prepaid iPhone sales were found to have increased fourfold in Q1 though, while sales of LG smartphones doubled year-over-year. More →
We’ve known BlackBerry has been planning to offer BBM on rival platforms for quite some time. Now that services like WhatsApp, iMessage and Kik are dominating the messaging world, BBM will finally expand beyond the BlackBerry platform. BlackBerry on Tuesday announced that BBM will launch this summer for Apple’s iPhone and for Android devices. The announcement came during the company’s Blackberry Live conference and details are limited thus far, though BlackBerry did confirm that messaging services and the new BlackBerry Channels service will both be supported by BBM for iOS and Android.
Given that smartphone users seem increasingly drawn toward larger displays, Apple could be feeling some pressure to come out with its own “iPhablet” to offer its users a larger alternative to the 4-inch iPhone 5. But Barron’s points us to a recent Bloomberg TV interview with Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who says that we shouldn’t get our hopes up for a larger version of the iPhone anytime soon. Misek says that based on his firm’s “research on Apple’s technology, we don’t think they can produce a larger screen iPhone until the middle of next year” at the very earliest, by which time Samsung will likely have already released new versions of both its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines of devices. Misek also says that “pressure for a larger-screen phone will continue to mount” in the coming months, especially if Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy S4 sells as well as early projections have indicated.
Chinese smartphone shipments hit a heady 82 million units in the first quarter this year. This is more than three times the smartphone shipment volume in the U.S. market during the same period of time. These Canalys numbers dovetail well with Qualcomm’s regional 3G device shipment trends. Over the past year, Qualcomm has repeatedly lowered its North American device shipment estimates while hiking its estimates sharply in China and India. Smartphones are a narrower category than 3G devices, but by both counts Asia’s portion of global sales keeps rising faster than most people expected a few years ago. More →
Pegatron may or may not be seeing falling demand for the iPad mini but it’s clear that the Apple device manufacturer won’t be slacking off for the next several months. Reuters reports that Pegatron is planning to boost its workforce in China by 40% in the second half of 2013, right when Apple is expected to start manufacturing its long-rumored low-cost iPhone. While there’s no definitive information linking Pegatron to the low-cost iPhone, Reuters says that the company expects its “revenue from communication products” to “contribute up to 40% to total in the six months from June, compared to 24% in the three months in the beginning of the year.” Or put another way, Pegatron expects to get a major revenue boost from producing “communications products” that will likely include some variant of Apple’s iPhone.
The rumors that Apple is preparing several different new iPhone models for release this fall gained more steam on Wednesday. Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a research note that Apple suppliers are planning to start building the new models in June and July. Per AppleInsider, Huberty reports that after meeting with multiple Apple component suppliers in Asia, she believes Apple will start manufacturing both a low-cost iPhone and the iPhone 5S over the summer for a likely release date in September. Huberty also says that carriers expect Apple to increase its iPhone shipments over the long haul not only with a low-cost iPhone in the fall but eventually also with a larger 5-inch model that would pit Apple against such noted phablet vendors as Samsung and LG.
T-Mobile US on Wednesday posted first-quarter financial results for the pre-merger T-Mobile USA, which saw earnings and revenue continue to slide. Adjusted EBITDA of $1.2 billion was down more than 7% from the first quarter last year, and revenue sank 7% to $4.7 billion. The carrier finished the March quarter with approximately 34 million subscribers, an increase of about 579,000 customers. T-Mobile added 3,000 net branded subscribers but it lost 199,000 net postpaid customers in the quarter. More →
Apple may be developing a lower-cost iPhone to sell in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, but it’s increasingly having difficulty finding wireless carriers willing to meet its terms for selling its mobile devices. Bloomberg reports that Apple “is missing out on a chance to court as many as 2.8 billion new smartphone customers, many of them in Asia, as wireless-service providers balk at conditions imposed by the iPhone maker and drag their heels in signing on as partners.” More →
What makes Onavo’s AppRank chart so interesting is the sharp contrast it reveals compared to download charts. AppRank tells us what portion of iPhone owners use an app during a month; it describes actual engagement rather than how many consumers have downloaded an app. This is a crucial distinction, because consumers quickly lose interest in most apps they download, yet certain apps with small download volumes turn out to be highly addictive. The most important low-volume, high-engagement app cluster right now consists of new messaging apps gaining serious traction. Both Viber and Kik are hitting 5% engagement levels in America and are growing rapidly. More →
The latest U.S. smartphone market share data from comScore shows an interesting twist compared to global data. Fast growth in emerging markets has sent Apple’s global market share plummeting, but the big-money U.S. smartphone market is still very much driven by high-end handsets. According to comScore’s latest data, Apple’s share of the U.S. smartphone market climbed to 39% in Q1 2013 from 36.3% in the fourth quarter last year. Over the same period of time, Android’s share of the U.S. market slid from 53.4% to 52%. Perhaps even more interesting than the figures themselves, however, is the trend among mobile operating systems in the U.S. — Android is still the nation’s top smartphone platform by a healthy margin, but its remarkable growth stopped the iPhone from enjoying impressive growth as well. More →
Apple shares now up 12% from their low, yet we’re the only ones talking about it ahead of a monster WWDC
Apple’s outflow of capital over the last five months is staggering. It makes sense, however, when you think of how many shares are institutionally owned, and owned by non-retail shareholders. Why not take some profits from Apple’s meteoric rise over the past couple years? Why not sell some shares before the new year (2013) when the capital gains tax rate is going up by 25%? And yes, Apple’s margins have slowly come down, and the breakneck growth of the largest company in the world has changed pace. Yet, Apple’s fundamentals have not changed. Apple is still the most innovative company in the technology space and it has the most talent, with the best hardware, the best software, and the best ecosystem in the world. More →
We’ve been hearing rumors about Apple releasing a cheaper iPhone for a while, but J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz this week has made a compelling case that a lower-cost iPhone will likely be a mid-range device that sells in the $350 range without subsidies and not in the $150 bargain-bin range with devices like the Nokia Lumia 521. Per Barron’s, Moskowitz writes that the success Apple has enjoyed with the iPad mini so far has shown the company that it can significantly expand its reach if it’s “willing to sacrifice near-term gross margins” in exchange for long-term dominance of the market. Although there aren’t too many well-known smartphones selling in the $350 range, Moskowitz notes that “Apple usually creates new demand when it steps into a price band” since “the $300-400 price range for tablets did not have much demand… before the launch of the iPad mini.”