Apple under pressure to dazzle as market slows

As Apple and Samsung gear up to launch new flagship smartphones, the market leaders are seeking a wow factor that can help them fend off challenges from rising Chinese-based manufacturers.
Apple is under particular pressure to dazzle as the culture-changing California iPhone maker looks for a way to maintain its image as an innovation leader in a global market showing signs of slowing.
“Clearly, Apple wants to do something different for the 10th anniversary” of the iPhone, NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker said. Baker said this is a challenge for Apple because “it is still going to be a flat piece of glass and the other things we talk about around a phone.”
Apple is widely expected to unveil the latest iteration of the iPhone in September, while smartphone market leader Samsung is holding an August 23 unveiling likely to launch its Galaxy Note 8 handset.
The two market leaders are seeing rivals, mainly from China, chip away at market share, creating pressure to showcase innovation, say analysts.
Some reports say the new iPhone will include a high-quality, edge-to-edge screen with a notch in the top for an extra camera supporting 3D facial recognition.
Some speculate that the back of the new handset will be glass and will offer wireless charging.
“We are expecting a major design refresh on Apple,” GlobalData analyst Avi Greengart said. “That has been a sore point, especially in China. People are looking to show off a status symbol, so it needs to look different than Huawei or Xiaomi, and I think it will.”
Apple has lost ground in the Chinese market, with revenues down 10 per cent in the past quarter from a year earlier in its “Greater China” segment.
Some reports say Apple could release as many as three new handsets, including an “iPhone Pro” aimed at capturing the high end of the market.
Global smartphone sales saw a modest decline of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, as market leaders Samsung and Apple consolidated their positions, an IDC survey showed.
The South Korean giant maintained the top spot with a 23.3 per cent market share, while Apple held onto second place with 12 per cent, according to IDC.
Huawei was the third-largest vendor, with an 11.3 per cent market share. The Chinese electronics giant closed the gap with Apple, adding two percentage points to market share from a year earlier, according to the survey. China-based Oppo and Xiaomi rounded out the top five. — AFP