1 Reason Apple Needs an iPhone for the Rest of the World

In the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) became the largest smartphone vendor in the U.S., with 34% market share. That's more than just a little impressive, but it's only a piece of the mobile pie. The developing world is adapting to smartphones quickly, but Apple's current iPhone lineup doesn't make the cut for people in developing countries. The demand is there for cheaper smartphones, and it's time for Apple to meet these potential customers where they're at.

Go where the people are
Apple has long prided itself on creating and selling products people didn't even know they wanted. But so far, Apple's missed the boat when it comes to giving people in the developing world a smartphone they already want, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) has stepped in to fill the need. In 2012, the Android operating system commanded 68% of the global smartphone market share, while Apple trailed with only 19%.


Source: VentureBeat.

This is clearly a bad thing for companies in the "other" category, such as Microsoft and Blackberry, but it's not great news for Apple, either. Its high-end smartphone approach has made the company a lot of money, but its market share in countries like the U.S. can't continue to grow indefinitely. 

A recent NPR article said that the next billion people who will get online for the first time are likely to do so on a mobile device. Companies using Google's OS have produced a massive number of smartphones around the global, with half a billion Android units shipped in 2012 alone. Apple is behind the game when it comes to the developing world, and it's likely that the current iPhone prices are holding them back.

It's all about the Benjamins
One of Apple's hurdles to gaining global mobile market share in developing countries is that most phones sold in the emerging mobile markets are unsubsidized phones. Apple's iPhone 5 sells for about $650 with no contract and even the iPhone 4S is $550. It's estimated that people in developing countries can afford smartphones in the $50  price point, the same price as the iPod Shuffle.


Source: Apple, PCWorld.

You could argue that Apple sells high-end products and it's not willing to sacrifice quality in order to expand its market share, but there are ways to create an economical iPhone. Apple made cheaper iPods after the popularity of the device took off. The company also just released a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad. The same efforts could (and should) be applied to the iPhone.

There have been rumors about a smaller and cheaper iPhone for years, and it's just like Apple to appear to ignore a market and then release a dynamite product that leapfrogs the company ahead of its competition. So investors shouldn't be worried quite yet that Apple hasn't released a cheaper iPhone, but they should be looking for it. The rest of the world is already (and will continue) buying inexpensive smartphones. It's time for Apple to offer them a new alternative.

With Apple's future in developing countries still uncertain, some investors worry the company won't be able to increase its global market share in mobile. On top of all this, Apple's stock is tumbling and a debate rages as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

 

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  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 8:50 PM, 12368818 wrote:

    Nokia is preparing a big come back.

    Nokia´s Vietnam plant is hiring 10 000 employees to produce 45 million phones a quarter. Nokia still has other 6 factories, the biggest one is in Beijing right now.

    Why Nokia is more likely the third horse in the race than BlackBerry:

    1) Competitive prices (with those prices Nokia has already returned to profitability in the recent quarter).

    2) Ecosystem (Windows Phones, Windows tablets, Windows PCs, Xbox games, Xbox Music, Microsoft Office, SkyDrive and so on).

    3) Nokia´s exclusive innovations in Lumia phones

    (PureView camera technology, HD+ sensitive screen technology, advanced mapping platform Here and City Lens, free music with no adds, offline turn by turn GPS, rich sound recording etc).

    4) China Mobile and China Unicom are subsidizing Lumia 920/Lumia 920T for a 2-year or 3-year contract starting from 0 or 1 yuan.

    Beside price competition, Nokia has already partnered with the two biggest operators in China

    (China Mobile and China Unicom together have about 90% of all subscribers in China, and China is now the biggest smartphone market in the world because of the huge population).

    5) Nokia has been just voted as the most trusted brand in the world´s second largest country India, where Nokia´s Asha phones are also selling very well.

    6) Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has advanced and competitive technology to build LTE networks.

    According to the Verge and other sources, Nokia may launch these devices as early as February at MWC:

    Lumia Eos (PureView camera phone)

    Lumia Catwalk (international flagship phone)

    Lumia Laser (Verizon flagship phone)

    Windows RT tablet (with added battery in the cover)

    Nokia which has come down 90% from its highest is a stock to consider,

    because it is extremely cheap and the reward can be one of the biggest in NYSE for the future.

    Nokia is a stock with great upside opportunity and why:

    1) Nokia´s bankruptcy is already remote.

    Nokia has increased net cash to about $5.7 billion.

    Nokia´s worst loss has been $290 million a quarter in 2012.

    Even with this kind of loss, Nokia could still deal by its own net cash for at least 4 years!

    2) Nokia won´t have to deal with that kind of loss in the future and why

    A. Nokia has cut cost expenses. The layoff in 2012 starts to be fully effective in 2013.

    B. Now Nokia has to pay royalty to Microsoft, but Nokia has patent incomes.

    C. Nokia has managed to make the important tough work for the basis of its new platform WP.

    Nokia has already sold over 15 million Lumia phones up to date (9.9 million units from Lumia debut till the end of September 2012 + 4.4 million units in the last quarter of 2012 + January 2013).

    D. Nokia has now a high end phone that can make "halo effects" and be compared to Apple´s and Samsung´s most high-end phone, the Lumia 920.

    The demand of this phone is still high in many countries around the world. The 4Q12´s Lumia sales did not include the sales of Lumia 920 in many countries, such as India, Asia-Pacific, UAE, Latin America, and many other countries around the world yet, because the phone was arriving these countries only starting from January 2013.

    Even in Europe, many countries start to get this phone starting 1Q13, for example the Netherlands announced the phone arriving in January.

    And China Mobile received only first lot of Lumias 920T around Christmas, the second and third lot and further have arrived China, and the phone is still selling out.

    E. China Mobile deal. When now, both China Mobile and China Unicom are subsidizing the Lumia 920 heavily, the 2-year or 3-year contract is starting from

    0 or 1 yuan, and considering only less than 1/5 of Chinese people are using highest-end smartphones,

    this will result into a huge number of 2-year or 3-year contract users for Nokia in China! Besides, 3G penetration in China is still very low, there is a huge opportunity there. Additionally, among the highest end phones, Nokia Lumia 920 is significantly much cheaper than for example iPhone 5 and Galaxy Note II. Nokia has an advantage in both the price competition and the biggest carriers´ backing in China!

    F. Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN). During these few months NSN has won many 3G and 4G contracts in many countries.

    According to NSN, they have network equipment that can boost the speed of 4G many times faster. This shows that, beside PureView camera technology, HD+ sensitive screen technology, advanced mapping platform HERE and City Lens, Nokia has also top innovations in building 4G LTE networks.

    G. MWC is coming soon. There are still more to come from Nokia.

    According to The Verge, Nokia will launch PureView camera phone, and also Lumia Catwalk (code name) and Lumia Laser (code name) for Verizon.

    According to CEO Stephen Elop, Nokia is also planning a lot of interesting things with Verizon.

    Nokia is likely launching tablet as well, even with some loyal fans of Nokia around the world buying some of Nokia´s tablets, this will be a good gain for Nokia.

    Nokia will launch more Lumia phones in the coming months to attract different consumer demands. More lower price-point,

    mid-range and high-end WP8 Lumias are to come.

    In 1Q13, beside Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 which are making their way to more markets and with better supplies, Nokia is also attracting the mass markets with budget WP phones Lumia 620 and Lumia 505.

    Nokia´s Navteq has beaten Google Maps for example by signing contracts with Toyota and Ford and many other car companies.

    F. Asha phones. Asha phones are now selling almost 10 million units a quarter.

    Asha phones are affordable and competitive. Asha phones have now more and more smartphone features.

    Apart from features like Facebook, Twitter etc. Asha phones

    have internet access and access to thousands of Nokia´s most popular apps.

    Nokia has also brought an app called "Nearby" into Asha phones. Nearby is almost the same as City Lens in Lumia phones which is exclusive and unique in mapping and location data.

    There is still plenty of room for Asha phones to grow, because the price is competitive (cheapest android is right now about $100, while Asha is only about $70 without any contract).

    Apart from the features and price mentioned above, there are important and good selling points in Asha phones against cheapest androids, for example 40 free most popular games!

    Asha phones are still profitable for Nokia, because the OS is from Nokia itself, Nokia does not have to pay royalty for it.

    3) While bankruptcy is remote, Nokia´s stock price is still heavily undervalued.

    NYSE tech stocks are usually 2x book value, Nokia is still way much below that.

    According to Morningstar´s valuation, the sum of parts of Nokia (NSN, Navteq, feature phones, smartphones and patent portfolio)

    is worth much more than Nokia´s stock price right now, not to mention Nokia´s $5.7 billion net cash added to that value!

    Two years ago NOK was still about $15, now the stock is only over $4, the reason is that the stock has been over sold.

    Nokia is the most short sold stock in both Helsinki and New York! The shorts are still over 20% in Nokia´s total share number which is approximately 3.75 billion shares.

    This is a huge number, considering Apple´s short interest is only around 1% and Samsung´s around 2%. When Nokia is here to stay, the shorts need to be covered and the stock will skyrocket from these levels.

    Nokia Apple Intel Microsoft Cirrus Logic

    0.32 3.0 2 3.0 3.76

    Note that Nokia is currently selling at 0.32 price/sales ratio. This means that if the company manages to restructure and return to normal profitability, the stock has the potential to become a 10x bagger (even from today's price levels) - assuming the market will value Nokia 3.0x sales like Apple or Microsoft. But even a price/sales ratio of 2, like Intel has, means a 6x bagger from these levels.

    Nokia is an opportunity with big upside.

    Nokia´s shorts have even increased from the last two weeks.

    In NYSE Nokia short interest has hit 8.3%, and in Helsinki Nokia short interest has also hit record high 12.15% (this number only counted with investors with over 0.5% of short positions, below 0.5% not listed because of EU law).

    The percentage numbers are counted with

    Nokia´s total share number which is approximately 3.75 billion shares.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 9:35 PM, ltortora7 wrote:

    Nokia still sells phones? cool

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 9:37 PM, ltortora7 wrote:

    This cheaper iphone BS is stupid. You can't get cheaper than FREEE on the iPhone 4.

    What no subsidies in Brazil, India, "emerging markets"? Since when have they been emerging because I don't hear about how well their economy is booming. lol deal with it.

  • Report this Comment On February 05, 2013, at 11:16 PM, dwilh51183 wrote:

    Tim Cook ... What are you waiting on? You need to get 2-3 cheap smart phones in under developed nations NOW !! Not in 6 months, NOW!!

    And why aren't you buying shares back ... About 30 billion worth. NOW.

    Also change your company policy for using other people's patents and ideas because obviously your engineers can't think of any new block buster products. I have one! But your up law dept won't talk to me. I have a blockbuster product. And you need it, NOW!! Wake up mr cook

  • Report this Comment On February 06, 2013, at 4:31 AM, johnbftl wrote:

    This writer is clearly either uneducated in the wireless industry, or purposely leading the reader to a predetermined conclusion that Apple is the "Mercedes" of smartphones whilst Android is made for poor people or third world countries by misrepresenting statistics. Apple did grab a 34% market share in the U.S. at the end of 2012. What the author omits is that Android grabbed 52% of that share in the U.S. The writer implies the reasoning for Android's dominance across the globe is cost and drives across the point of the retail value of the iPhone but neglects to mention most purchases are at the subsidized carrier price. Finally, for the writer to say Apple is not willing to sacrifice quality has not looked at the last 3 iPhone releases. Antennagate, with Steve Jobs famously saying "you're holding it wrong. Siri being released in beta without it being told to the public, and now the Apple maps fiasco.

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