June 2010
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Day June 14, 2010

Can the iPhone reach 10% of the world's 3G subscribers?

In a previous article I asked what it would take for the iPhone to reach 20% of the world’s smartphone market? (answer: 50% growth).

Now I take a look at the whole market measuring three underlying quantities:

  1. the number of total wireless subscribers world-wide
  2. the number of 3G subscribers
  3. the number of smartphones sold every year 2007 to 2013

The forecast for 2013 is:

  1. total subs: 6.2 billion
  2. total 3G subs: 2.4 billion (38% of all WW users)
  3. 660 million smartphones sold in 2013

I also computed the installed base of iPhones based on units sold per year according to the following schedule: 100% of iPhones in use during first year, 75% in use after second year, 50% in use in the third year, 25% in the fourth and 0% in the fifth and after.

If the iPhone can sustain 50% growth then the following are possible in 2013:

  1. 4% of world’s users using an iPhone (248 million iphone users)
  2. 10% of 3G users are using the iPhone
  3. 21% of smartphones purchased are iPhones

Can iPhone reach 20% of global smartphone market?

On a yearly basis, iPhone has been growing at 270% in 2008,83% in 2009 and 130% so far this year.  The growth has been faster than the growth of the smartphone market during the same time.  As a result, the market share of the iPhone has increased from 2% in 2007 to 13% in 2009.

The question now is: What is the required growth rate for iPhone to maintain growth in share as the overall market grows?

Taking market estimates from Morgan Stanley, I tried to fit an iPhone growth rate which would result in a 20% share for Apple by 2013. This rate turns out to be a conservative 50%/yr.  Any growth beyond 50% would result in well over 20% share for the iPhone.

The iPhone at three

The end of June will mark the third anniversary of the market release of the iPhone. When it arrived in June 2007, anticipation for the product was significant with high consumer awareness and expectations–though the 10 million/yr. target for 2008 was met with skepticism by many.

The iPhone launched on June 29th 2007, with only a few days remaining in the quarter. 270k units were sold in that quarter and that was considered a solid start. When the company reported earnings a few weeks later (July 18th 2007) the company’s stock price jumped to $140 a share.

As a sign of optimism in the company’s prospects, the P/E ratio showed that the company was expected to reach 35% growth (35 P/E).

Was this optimism warranted?