Can Apple maintain its shine for investors?
Analyst Michael Morgan at ABI Research believes Apple's share of the global smartphone market will grow from 20.5 percent in 2012 to 22 percent this year and then remain flat. Meanwhile, South Korea's Samsung Electronics -the world's No. 1 maker of smartphones- is already at 30 percent of the market, and is set to leverage its chip- and display-making capabilities into further dominance, he said.
"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,'' Morgan said.
Investors also see short-term difficulties for Apple. Last week, the Japanese newspaper Nikkei and The Wall Street Journal said the company has slashed its orders for iPhone 5 parts because the device isn't selling as well as hoped. Both publications cited unidentified people familiar with the situation.
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu believes the press reports are misleading. IPhone 5 demand, he says, remains robust. He attributes the reports of lower orders to shifts to other suppliers and an improvement in production, which means fewer components are wasted while building the complicated phone.
Apple usually reports the number of iPhones it sells each quarter, so Wednesday's financial update should give investors some indication of where the company is heading. Analysts on average expect the company to show sales of 48 million iPhones, which compares with the 37 million it sold in the same period a year prior.
The wrinkle is that Apple doesn't break out how many iPhones it sells of each type
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