A research report recently published by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) revealed the percentage of total U.S. mobile phone activations during the quarter that ended in June 2018.
According to the report, 36% of U.S. mobile phones activated were Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones. Apple tied with Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF), which offers mobile phones across a much wider range of price points.
CIRP said that Apple's share of U.S. mobile phone activations grew year over year and that gain came "in part at Samsung's expense." Samsung's U.S. mobile phone activation share declined both sequentially as well as year over year.
Although this news is a positive for Apple as it indicates that its current iPhone product portfolio was more competitive in the June quarter of this year than in the prior year, it could be an even bigger positive for the upcoming iPhone product cycle.
Apple's products get more competitive
In the premium portion of the smartphone market, Samsung's top offerings during the June quarter were as follows:
- Galaxy S9
- Galaxy S9+
- Galaxy Note8
All three devices have large, advanced OLED screens, good-looking designs with fairly minimal bezels, and competitive cameras. By contrast, the top iPhone offerings during the June quarter were the following:
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
The iPhone X is a sleek device with a full-screen OLED display and solid cameras, but both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus use less advanced (although still quite good) liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and have fairly large bezels.
Wired's review of the iPhone 8 criticized the device for having "a lot of bezel" and for seeming "outdated" in comparison to the iPhone X. This isn't surprising considering that, at least from the front, the iPhone 8 series devices look nearly identical to iPhones dating back to 2014.
Even with the bulk of Apple's premium product stack being based on mature and, arguably, less "sleek" designs than that of the iPhone X or the top Samsung phones, Apple still managed to gain share against Samsung in the June quarter, according to CIRP.
If Apple's current product lineup is doing this well, its next-generation lineup -- which looks far better than the current one -- could serve to accelerate share gains, at least in the U.S. market.
Inside next-generation lineup
According to the rumor mill, Apple's preparing three new iPhones for this year. One will be a successor to the iPhone X, one will be a larger version of that successor to the iPhone X, and one will be a successor to both the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with a 6.1-inch LCD and a full-screen design.
Across the board, Apple's new lineup should be far more competitive than its current one. There will finally be a larger version of the iPhone X, which should enable Apple to more effectively fight for premium Android share (there are many jumbo-sized Android phones, such as the Galaxy S9+ and Galaxy Note8 in the market today).
Perhaps more importantly, though, the lowest priced of Apple's new lineup will get a much-overdue upgrade to a design that looks more like the iPhone X with narrower bezels and Face ID facial recognition.
Samsung, too, should improve its Galaxy S series lineup next spring, but there's far more room for improvement for Apple, at least when it comes to improving the aesthetics of its mainstream devices, than there is for Samsung.