Apple's iPhone, other devices seen keeping strong appeal in Latin America

Friday, October 7, 2011

Analysts believe that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) will continue to retain a small but stable market share in Latin America with its various devices over the next few years due to the strong appeal of the brand, analysts told BNamericas.

Some questions have been raised about the company's long-term strategy without its visionary leader, Steve Jobs, who died on Wednesday (Oct 5).

According to Gartner (NYSE: IT), in 2Q11 Apple's iOS had a 7.7% share of the Latin America smartphone market, behind Android with 35.7%, Symbian with 32.5% and BlackBerry 22.8%.

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Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen believes the iPhone will retain a market share of around 5% for the next five years.

"It's small [the market share] but significant given how high-end they play," Nguyen said. "So that means the market will continue to grow but they will not grow as fast as the market has. I don't feel they have an opportunity to grow significantly, given that I expect them to play primarily in the high end."

He said 7.7% is the highest market share the company has had to date.

IDC had Apple in sixth place in the Latin American smartphone market in 1H11. As regards other Apple products, IDC had them at 15th in desktops, 11th in notebooks and first in media tablets (iPad). As regards MP3 players, the iPod was number one in Mexico in Q1.

"We could say that although it's not a volume leader in many of the categories, it plays in within Latin America due to its premium designs and pricing," IDC Latin America's devices analyst Jay Gumbiner told BNamericas.

"Its impact on the consumer's desire for cool, well-designed products should not be minimized and continues to be one of the highest aspirational brands we see in our consumer surveys," Gumbiner said.

Vinicius Caetano, senior analyst with Pyramid Research, also believes Apple's status symbol appeal will keep the brand strong in Latin America, even though it targets the high-end consumer. According to Pyramid, the number of iPhones shipped to the region rose to 1mn in 2010 from 300,000 in 2008.

"The phone is like a status symbol. The BlackBerry has always been perceived as a corporate device. You wouldn't see customers queuing up as soon as it was available at the store," Caetano said.