Where Are Apple’s New Customers Hiding?

In its fierce smartphone battle against Samsung, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will hope to find new allies in current users of rival Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry and even Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android devices looking to convert to the iPhone 5. While the initial rollout of the new device has expectedly been composed of existing, faithful Apple users, meeting Wall Street’s high expectations for the device will involve addition of hordes of new buyers.

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“The initial action is typically repeat customers,” Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities told MarketWatch. “But through the product cycle, we certainly expect [the company] to take share.”

Both Apple and Android manufacturers have benefitted majorly from the fall of RIM’s BlackBerry, whose share of the smartphone market in the U.S. has dropped from more than 45 percent in 2008 to less than 3 percent in the first half of this year, according to IDC. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has also stumbled, with the company abandoning its Windows Mobile platform, which had a share of about 19 percent of the market in 2008 in favor of the new Windows Phone OS, which only began shipping last year.

While Samsung continues to hold strong, other Android manufacturers, such as Motorola and HTC, may not be very lucky. And research firm Gartner is throwing its confidence firmly behind Apple in chipping into rivals’ markets further. “I think you’ll see a lot of people switching from BlackBerry and some switching from Android,” said Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi.

Several analysts are expecting Apple to sell 10 million iPhone 5 units in the first two weeks of the launch to end the company’s fourth fiscal quarter on a high. Shipments for the December period are expected to be somewhere in the 45 million to 50 million range.

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