Apple’s innovative edge slipping: analyst

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 - Page 14

The next generation of Apple Inc’s iPhones and iPads may not be as innovative as previous models in light of intensified competition from other smartphone makers, an analyst at Swiss brokerage house UBS Securities said yesterday.

Arthur Hsieh (謝宗文), chief electronics hardware analyst at UBS, said at a media briefing that he believes Apple’s product road map in the near future would be “less innovative,” while its rivals, such as Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea, are set to launch more competitive products.

He said Samsung unveiled a flexible display at the Consumer Electronics Show in the US earlier this month, and it would be worth watching whether Samsung would launch new smartphones or tablets using the advanced technology in the second half of the year.

Hsieh said competition among electronics companies is expected to intensify in the third quarter, possibly triggering a price war.

In the Apple supply chain in Taiwan, the outlook is good for touchscreen suppliers in view of improving yields and for optical lens makers that have moved toward high-end applications, he said.

In addition, a shortening product cycle for smartphone makers is likely to open a window of opportunity for Taiwanese brand companies, which will have a “fairly good chance” in such a diversified mobile market if they step up their marketing efforts, he said.

US bank Citigroup Inc said in a note earlier this week that Apple was unlikely to see growth in the high-end smartphone segment this year due to the weakness of its iPhone 5.

The product’s 4-inch display may have failed to satisfy most premium consumers’ preference for screens larger than 4.7 inches, Citigroup said.

The bank said Apple was expected to launch a 4-inch iPhone 5S and a 4-inch low-end iPhone in July this year, but predicted that the iPhone 5S would likely look similar to the iPhone 5, leading to weak demand for the updated model.

Citigroup forecast that Samsung would snatch 70 to 80 percent of the smartphone market growth opportunity left by Apple’s void, while second-tier brands, including Taiwan’s HTC Corp (宏達電), could grow their share by 25 percent to 40 percent on an aggregated basis.