Analysts: iPhone 5 not good enough

2012-09-13 13:05

Tokyo - Asian mobile carriers look set to cash in on the iPhone 5 and its superfast speeds, but the model is not the game-changer that Apple needs if it to remain top of the heap, analysts said on Thursday.

The phone's use of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology will allow carriers to increase their charges and boost profits as existing users download more content and smartphone non-converts are tempted to take the plunge.

But despite some new software, relatively minor tweaks to the hardware and an operating system that is starting to show its age risk leaving Apple trailing competitors such as South Korea's Samsung, and Google.

"The new iPhone will be Apple's most successful smartphone to date," said research firm Ovum from Melbourne.

"However, without a redesign of the iOS user experience and underlying software platform in the next two years, Apple will find itself in a position similar to Nokia and RIM... with outdated smartphone platforms."

LTE network

Kim Hue-jae at Daishin Securities said the main interest in the new iPhone had focused on its adoption of the fourth-generation LTE network.

"The iPhone shows a significant enhancement only with the fact that it runs on LTE. It will help LTE operators to boost their subscribers," Kim said.

But in Japan, where Apple has 28.7% of the large and growing smartphone market, the iPhone is tied to the second and third largest carriers, KDDI and Softbank, neither of which yet runs a compatible 4G LTE network, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Both companies say they intend to roll out an Apple-friendly LTE network sometime in the year, but neither has specified a date. The iPhone 5 hits stores in Japan on 21 September, the same day it goes on sale in the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

Industry leader NTT DoCoMo, which has a stranglehold on about half of the Japanese mobile phone market, does offer a compatible network, but does not sell Apple products.

It is heavily pushing the phones running Google's Android operating system, such as Samsung's Galaxy SIII, which has become the smartphone market leader in a number of countries in Asia and the West.

Apple and Samsung have been involved in patent row around the world and last month the US giant won more than $1bn in a high-profile court case against its bitter rival.

Market share

This week the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was shifting some orders for memory chips for the iPhone from Samsung Electronics to other regional manufacturers but banking giant HSBC said Samsung was unlikely to be badly hurt.

"We believe the iPhone 5 launch will have limited impact to Samsung component businesses and is potentially positive to earnings," it said, adding that Apple's supply chain "diversifications" had been expected.

Smartphones accounted for only 22.5% of the Japanese mobile phone market as of March, with the ratio expected to rise in coming years, according to MM Research Institute.

"Just from the promotion point of view, it's easier to sell new products with new functions than existing products," said Daiwa Securities analyst Koki Shiraishi said.

"The launch should make more people aware of the availability of smartphones and reach people who are yet to use them," he said.

But that in itself could cause problems.

The expected spike in demand might lead to production hiccups, said Michito Kimura, senior market analyst at IDC Japan.

"It is possible that supply shortage of major parts, such as semiconductors, may temporarily suppress high-end handsets," including iPhone 5, he said.

Kang Hyun-gie, an analyst at Solomon Investment & Securities in South Korea, market players were not that impressed.

"Overall, the iPhone 5 was disappointing hardware-wise. The software side seemed a bit promising, but is seems like it isn't good enough to excite investors," he said.

  • gerhard.nel - 2012-09-13 14:42

    The Iphone 5 looking at it as a stand alone phone is a good phone. However, if compared to the market and phones currently out there especially Android phones like the Galaxy S3 they (Apple) are playing catch up. What annoys me most is the marketing hype they tried to create around this phone saying it is the best invention since sliced bread. As a company that refers to themselves as the most innovative company in the world this seriously disappoints. Everything that they have in this phone has already been done. Nothing innovative about it. The best is Samsung will probably get its own back by suing Apple over LTE as Samsung holds several patents on it.

      boltonbarry - 2012-09-13 15:37

      I think it was Acer's CEO that said the iCrap 5 will put the s 3 to shame. Apple is now suing a supermarket chain cause they have a green apple logo that doesn even look close to Apple's logo. If Apple actually stopped suing other manufacturers for " rectangular devices with round corners" and focus all the money on R&D they will have the majority share of the "apple" pie as they will dominate the market with superior working and looking products.

      raath - 2012-09-13 15:49

      The supermarket chain *was* Woolworths in Australia.

      andynct - 2012-09-13 17:23

      This time its a Polish store

      boltonbarry - 2012-09-13 18:49

      Yes it was Woolies who was first. You know I looked at the two signs with utter objectivity and there is nothing that makes me think of Apple Computer corporation when you look at the two

      romicom - 2012-09-26 22:49

      People always like to brandish `catching up` to compare the iphone 5 and other Android phones. I have an iphone 4 and the SGSIII and i really wonder what that `catching up ` is all about. the SGSIII is full of features that either are useless or not working at all. Beside i am really surprised by the very low reporting of the fact that it foce-closes too often and is buggy (like copy and paste not working in many apps). For me the iphone has never frozen or had to be restarted because of freeze. Overall the iphone 4, even then is an overall winner in terms of functionality, feel and sheer beauty. i will be getting the iphone 5 when available in SA.

  • merven.halo - 2012-09-13 15:48

    Today I walked over to the dark side. I went to Menlyn to get the iPad and came home with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 pad.

      james.m.turner.35 - 2012-09-13 16:18

      Haha! Good choice buddy!

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-09-13 16:37

      May the force be with you.

      boltonbarry - 2012-09-13 18:50

      The force is strong in this one :-) Merven. Why did you chose the Galaxy over the iCrap

      merven.halo - 2012-09-14 11:15

      I love my iPhone, but the Galaxy was just amazing: - it got the pen and handwriting option, for me sitting with clients I don't have to bring with a note pad, I now just write like normal on the notepad, also being a designer I can make quick sketches for the clients as we speak; - it comes out with 32 gigs on board and can take up to a 64 gig in the card slot; - it got a quad-core Exynos 4 chip processor where the iPad got a 1 gig dual core processor; - the screen is bigger (10.1 inches where the ipad got a 9.7 inch screen); - Samsung got a deal with Dropbox giving you 50 gig for online back up; - Vodacom didn't want to give me a iPad unless I took a minimum 4 gig data bundle with; - me as a designer dealing with clients, I'm tired of struggling with all the copyright on the mac, you struggle to bluetooth pics to clients etc.

      merven.halo - 2012-09-14 11:16

      But I must say, the iPad feels much more 'expensive', the Samsung feels and look cheap in comparison to the iPad.

      merven.halo - 2012-09-14 12:18

      Oh, and the Samsung Galaxy Note comes standard with Photoshop Touch, which is amazing for a designer like me!

  • raath - 2012-09-13 15:52

    I have the iPhone 4, but somehow I wasn't all hyped up over the release of the iPhone 5. Good thing so, I didn't waste my energy getting all excited. I am extremely underwhelmed. But in all fairness, when you have a really good phone (let's face it, the iPhone 4/4S are not bad phones at all) - what do you do to improve it? You can improve the weight, screen size, battery life, camera, processor and memory, and make it thinner. All those things done here. Yet, it still fails to make me go "Ooh! I want one!" - If the Samsung Galaxy S3 feels better in my hand than the iPhone 5, then I am changing to it.

      lydonmcg - 2012-09-13 16:54

      iOS needs an interface overhaul. If they completely altered the iOS UI for the better I'd be first in line, but it works exactly like my 4S, just in a slightly better package.

      Tony Lapson - 2012-09-13 17:27

      The SIII is a big w

  • Steynje - 2012-09-13 16:03

    "The phone's use of Long-Term Evolution (LTE) wireless technology will allow carriers to increase their charges and boost profits as existing users download more content and smartphone non-converts are tempted to take the plunge." The data price as it is today is completely OUTRAGEOUS. Other countries can offer free Wi-Fi service, so why do we have to pay our a*** off just to be connected. Just another reason to get a new home ;)

  • tangenitanga.erastus - 2012-09-13 21:32

    Andriods run the game now..

  • muller.fourie.7 - 2012-09-15 09:05

    I have a Samsung S3, and the phone is absolutely brilliant and I wouldn't change it anytime soon (especially not for a iPhone 5). Needless to say Apple is one amazing company that revolutionized the computer world, and from a personal perspective I think they are a better company that Samsung. It's not always about the specs of a phone that makes it great, if you want good specs get a Desktop. If I had to compare my S3 to a iPhone 4s the 4s is a better "phone". From everyday's wear and tear my S3 won't last, I'll probably end up with a old iPhone 4s, it takes a better beating.

      docaus - 2012-09-16 15:40

      I also use an SIII phone and can proudly say its way better than the iphone 4S. Big screen (4.8) and processor (quad-core). Watching music videos or movies on the SIII is a dream come true and mind blogging. All my friends, colleagues and people that comes across my phone want to touch and play with the phone. This is one phone (SII) which your favourite 4S can't touch...

  • rlong1952 - 2012-09-21 08:06

    Ha ha, not good enough? That is why it is breaking all sales records and why Apple is the most valuable company in the US. Article written by a Samsung employee. One year down the line all you Samsung fan boys will be singing the same song, 'Oh, my Samsung is bust' while Apple owners will still be using the phone that works perfectly. Apple is quality, just no denying it.

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