Analysis: Apple’s Record Quarter

You don’t have to be a sales analyst to realize that the iPhone is something of a runaway success right now. In the third financial quarter ending June 27th, Apple sold 5.2 million iPhones. That’s a 626 percent increase on the figures from the same quarter the previous year.

Naturally, Apple is rather pleased. “We’re making our most innovative products ever and our customers are responding,” CEO Steve Jobs boomed in a press release. “We’re thrilled to have sold over 5.2 million iPhones during the quarter and users have downloaded more than 1.5 billion applications from our App Store in its first year.”

With sales soaring, you might assume that the iPhone had achieved total dominance of the mobile market, pushing past masters from Europe and Asia out of the picture. It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that Apple is actually lagging behind the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson and even Blackberry developer RIM right now.

That’s according to a report published by The Wall Street Journal which claims that despite Apple raking in huge profits from the iPhone, when it comes to pure market share, the iPhone and Blackberry combined still only account for 3 percent of sales. This is a figure that pales in comparison to Nokia’s 46-percent market share.

But despite the iPhone’s place in the market, some industry experts see Apple’s entry as carving out its own premium niche.

‘I’m worried about where some of today’s handset giants are going to end up,” games market expert Rob Fahey told us. “Nokia, Motorola and even Sony Ericsson still sell a lot of phones, but they’re seriously risking being seen as second-rate brands–the kind of companies that make cheap candybar phones for children, not desirable upmarket handsets. Brand perception is everything in this market, and right now companies like Apple and Palm are way out in front in that sense.

That perception can mean everything in terms of gaming, especially as smartphones become a mainstream handheld device for the majority of consumers, Fahey said. They have made the leap from being seen as a boring business tool to the first choice in a number of consumer surveys. Couple that with an improvement in digital distribution systems and a breakthrough in technology, and the environment is ripe with opportunity.

‘Obviously, though, the big news for gaming isn’t about the battle between handset makers, it’s simply that smartphones are finally, finally inheriting the market,” Fahey said. “Mobile gaming needs this smartphone revolution, and the App Store style retail that it brings, like the deserts need rain. The whole sector has been out in the cold for the best part of a decade thanks to a combination of awful handsets and even worse distribution systems. Thanks to devices like the iPhone and the Palm Pre, mobile platforms will start to seriously challenge the handheld console market in the coming years.’

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