The Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s long-awaited device will arrive October 14, boosting sales in the wake of a third market in Sprint, much like when Verizon first got the iPhone 4 in February.
Verizon sold two million Apple handsets in the first quarter, tripling profits and winning over nearly 100,000 new customers.
Verizon’s iPhone sales, in addition to AT&T’s, helped keep Apple at the top of the smartphone market this year. As of August, Apple sold 20 million units and commanded as much of the mobile market share, nearly twice its hold from last year.
Apple’s market share may rise even further should it sells 25 million iPhone 4S devices by year’s end, as the Wall Street Journal predicts. Much of that growth is expected to come from Sprint, which offers an unlimited data plan, though the carrier may rescind it if traffic becomes too great.
Apple’s next-generation device will still see plenty of competition from Android phones, however, as all four U.S. carriers continue to support handsets running Google’s OS. Android rose nearly 45 percent rise in the global smartphone market, up from around 17 percent last year.
T-Mobile, for example, the only carrier without the iPhone 4S, has chosen the Android-based Samsung Galaxy 2 and HTC Amaze instead as its flagship phones.
And unlike Apple, Android is supported by a long list of handset makers, from its biggest rival Samsung to HTC and Motorola, among others, which may boost Android’s reach. Their hardware innovations provide customers with a range of options, compared to Apple’s fixed design.
Android phones are also available for different prices, while Apple’s remains a high-end handset unsuitable for those on a budget. For example, the iPhone 4S costs $200 for the 16-gigabyte version, $300 for double the storage and $400 for 64-gigabytes. Android OS, however, is thriving on lower-end smartphones and prepaid plans, leaving no room for Apple in this growing market.
The iPhone 4S, then, stands to skyrocket in sales as it arrives on three of four major U.S. carriers, but it will have to contend with an increasing variety of Android competitors.