Near the end of September, we put our own twist on what was then, and continues to be, a hotly contested discussion on the outlook for sales of Apple’s iPhone 5. (Frankly, any discussion about ANYTHING to do with Apple was sure to set off alarm bells throughout 2012).
Our point was that, beyond the near-term distractions everyone else was talking about, Apple has some serious medium-term limits to its traditionally phenomenal growth. One being the economy, the other being a simple “law of math” – market share is finite.
If we may quote ourselves: “…the days of 45-degree-straight-line-up forecasts are gone.”
Coincidentally or not, our original Apple post was on September 28. At the time, Apple stock was priced at $664, some $35 a share below its September 19 peak. It now stands at roughly $519, a further drop of 20%.
Apple’s stock even managed to fall today, despite a splashy headline from All Things Digital about Apple’s now-majority share of the U.S. smartphone market. It fell even with 37 more stories about the soon to be pending, coming, arriving any second now Apple TV.
When Apple releases its current fiscal quarter (Q1-2013, which ends this calendar year), the debate will rage on, because the company will benefit from signifcant tailwind of holiday sales and the China market launch. It will be the following two quarters that should put things into real focus.
Again, this is no knock against Apple. It is simple math. As long as Samsung, Android, et al. remain in the smartphone and tablet markets, Apple’s growth in market share must slow.
Unless there is some technology no one has yet imagined, the consumer electronics space has a frightening outlook two to three years out. What will be more interesting to watch for is a serious move by Apple toward the enterprise B2B space.