Is Apple Staring at Flattening Sales?

more_music_image iphoneApple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) share of the global smartphone market will grow to 22 percent this year, but will peak at that point and flatten through 2018, according to a projection from market researcher ABI Research. And rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) will be there to fill in the growth holes, the report added.

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“Barring an unlikely collapse in Samsung’s business, even Apple will be chasing Samsung’s technology, software, and device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future,” ABI’s Michael Morgan said in a statement.

Apple’s iOS accounted for just under 15 percent of the global market in the third quarter of last year according to a recent report from IDC, up from 13.8 percent a year earlier. Samsung, which increased its market share from 8 percent in 2010 to more than 30 percent last year on the back of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, will diversify its operating system portfolio to include the homegrown Bada, Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) Tizen, and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone, the ABI report added.

Smartphones will account for half of all mobile handset shipments by next year and 69 percent by 2018, ABI said. Growth will be driven by the “rapidly growing low-cost smartphone segment,” with devices costing under $250 accounting for 62 percent of total smartphone shipments by 2018.

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LTE adoption will also be quick and handsets compatible with the ultra-fast wireless technology will account for 35 percent of all handset shipments and 50 percent of smartphone shipments by 2018. “With the successful launch of the iPhone 5 and competing LTE handsets from other leading [manufacturers], LTE handsets will be found in the hands of many consumers who do not even have access to LTE networks,” ABI’s Jeff Orr said. “Apple is demonstrating to the market that LTE is not the only reason to buy a premium handset.”

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