Everyone has been big on the launch of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 5 as one of the most telegraphed smartphone releases to date. What is so unique here is that Apple’s hot new phone is being launched in just nine calendar days in the United States and other select countries, and just a week later in 22 other countries. This is really bad news for the likes of Nokia Corporation (NYSE: NOK) and Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM). Actually, this one more reason to worry about the future existance of these two failing handset giants.
How can a company as large as Apple keep such secrets and still get millions of units out to the public within nine or ten days? If you look at RIM, their new Blackberry O/S phone has been delayed considerably and is now not expected to launch until after the start of 2013. RIM is going to miss the 2012 holiday season. Nokia’s new Windows smartphones are set to maybe come out before the end of the year. Maybe.
Bloomberg has an estimate from analysts somewhere around 48 million iPhones to be sold by Apple before the end of calendar 2012. The problem with both Nokia and RIM both having new smartphones coming out and both missing the ability to compete against the iPhone 5 before the holiday season this year is a disaster. We’d call it a “cluster-….” if that was a more widely accepted word in print.
Let’s say that Apple really sells anywhere close to that many iPhones before the end of the year. Consumers buy phones and lock into contracts often for two years or more. Do Nokia and RIM really think that smartphone buyers are going to turn in their brand new iPhones in favor of a newer Lumia and/or a newer Blackberry in just a few months? Think about that for a second, and see if you can stop yourself from wanting to laugh at the thought of it.
It is important to realize that the iPhone 5 is launching through the three major carriers of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S). What are the odds that any salesperson will tell a prospective customer “Now don’t forget that the hot new Lumia and Blackberry smartphones will be out in the coming months.”? Just one more reason to realize that Nokia and RIM missed the boat and can kiss off their smartphone market shares.
About all that Nokia and RIM can hope for now is that some hack attack or some technical glitch severely damages Apple. Those two companies just cannot compete in a highly competitive smartphone environment as of today.
Nokia shares are down 1.8% at $2.74 and RIM shares are down 0.5% at $7.42 late on Wednesday afternoon. With a “sell the news” drop in Apple shares, both Nokia and RIM might consider themselves lucky so far today. With new smartphones with the Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android O/S hitting the market from multiple carriers almost each week, Google will be able to swoop in for the kill on whatever Apple misses through the end of 2012.
Just do not forget that we run Nokia Deathwatch and RIM Deathwatch pieces routinely. There is a reason for the ‘Deathwatch’ title. Nokia and RIM are dying on the vine in the handset world.
JON C. OGG