Apple Loses Its Dominant Grip in This Key Market

Apple still leads in this market, but its lead has noticeably slipped.

Jamal Carnette, CFA
Jamal Carnette, CFA
Aug 12, 2015 at 4:00PM
Technology and Telecom

In the enterprise (businesses and governments), Android is gaining on Apple's iOS. Image source: Flickr User Tsahi Levent-Levi

Over the past month, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock has struggled: After closing as high as $132 on a per-share basis in July, shares of the company are down roughly 13%, as investors have retreated from the company. The impetus of Cupertino's stock drop, over and above the losses of the greater market, was the company's third-quarter earnings report, which led the company to a 7% post-earnings retreat.

As I argued in an earlier article, the earnings weren't as negative as interpreted by insatiable short-term investors, as the company performed better than expectations, with both revenue and earnings per share. The company did miss the analyst consensus with its highly important iPhone units figure and provided guidance lower than Wall Street's consensus for its upcoming fourth quarter. Combined, those two factors outweighed the rather positive quarter.

The fear, of course, is there's slowing future demand for Apple's host of iDevices, whether it's a secular slowdown or if from Android-based competition. Recently, enterprise mobile security company Good Technology released its Q2 Mobility Index Report, and it brings bad news for Apple's enterprise-related device-market share.

Two straight quarters of enterprise-focused declines ...
According to Good Technology, Apple's iOS did retain the top spot but came in at 64% of all enterprise-related activations, its lowest showing to date. Meanwhile, the study reported that Android's market share "surged" from 26% to 32% during the same period.. It appears Apple is losing its dominant grip on business-focused and government organizations, in what could signify a canary in the coalmine for future sales.

In perhaps the most important device for enterprise-focused users, tablets, Apple's loss of market share is apparent. Again, Apple fell to 64% of all tablet activations, down from 81% in last year's corresponding quarter. During that period, Android-based activations grew 10 percentage points, from 15% to 25%, and Windows mounted a strong performance, growing from 4% to 11%. Apple's iPad has been under pressure overall, but the "good-enough" market that has plagued the company now seems to have spilled over into the enterprise.

... means increasing reliance on China
For the aforementioned third fiscal quarter, and the two prior, the story of Apple's growth has been on China. Over the past three quarters, the company has seen amazing year-on-year growth rates. After two quarters of 70% growth, last quarter that number jumped to 112%. Digging deeper into the data, in its third quarter 57% of total revenue growth was due to China, and Apple's top-line growth would have been cut in half, from 33% to 16.6%, if China was excluded. Enterprise-related market-share losses could make Apple even more reliant on the Middle Kingdom for growth.

And that could be a problem. As of the day of this writing, China decided to devalue its currency roughly 12%, the largest devaluation in two decades. This move makes it easier for China to sell its goods and services to the U.S. but makes it harder for the U.S. to do likewise. So while I certainly don't believe this report is actionable, as I'm a long-term investor, Apple is increasingly becoming an iPhone and China-related story, so both should be watched carefully.