Apple Rises to Android Challenge in Australia

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll have heard that Apple launched two new devices in recent weeks.  The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus were available to purchase in Australia just days after their announcement on September 9th.  Both devices are larger than Apple’s previous iPhones and finally bring Apple in line with the size of most popular smartphones on the market today. The new phones were obviously welcomed by Apple fans globally, who bought up the new iPhone 6 and 6 plus in record numbers, exceeding even Apple’s own forecasts.

The new iPhone 6, at 4.7 inches, targets many of today’s smartphone customers who prefer a larger screen.   We have seen a steady increase in smartphone size over recent years, with all but Apple jumping on the ‘oversize’ bandwagon. In the APAC region, sales of larger screen devices make up 43% of all new phone shipments. Apple has been slow to respond to this trend, but the iPhone 6 and iPhone Plus now offer customers options in two of the most popular size categories  – the oversized smartphone and the phablet.

Apple iPhone Device Sizes

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According to predictions, screen sizes are likely to stabilise at around 5 – 5.5 inches over the next few years. That is significantly larger than the iPhone 6., with anything 5.5 inches and above currently falling into the ‘Phablet’ market (though phablets may eventually disappear with these larger sizes becoming the new standard for smartphones – but that’s another story!)

So how is that battle playing out here in Australia?  Obviously it’s important to brands and marketers to understand the trends of smartphone and device usage in order to effectively target their customers.  In Australia we have been slower to embrace the now dominant Android devices, with size a large factor in Android’s eventual dominance here in the last 12 – 18 months.  Australian customers today simply prefer larger devices. This has been a disadvantage to Apple locally and we have seen increasing numbers of Australians take up devices built on the Android platform.  With increased demand for rich media and video services, Australian customers have sought out larger screens and have not been willing to wait.

With new sales of smartphones in the 2nd quarter of 2014 leaning decidedly towards Android at 63%, it’s worth noting that Apple sales had stalled at around 27% in advance of the pending iPhone 6 release. With Android sales still growing, it’s now apparent new Android customers are not abandoning Apple, and that it is in fact some of the other manufacturers who are fast losing ground. Although it’s unlikely that Apple will dominate the smartphone in Australia again, the launch of the large iPhone 6 and even larger iPhone 6 plus, may see the balance tip back a little in Apple’s favour.  Prior to the launch of the iPhone6, Telsyte found that as many as 20% of Australians currently considering Android devices would actually switch to a larger iPhone if it were available, so it will be interesting to see how Apple rallies in the 3rd quarter.

While size is an important selling point for Australian customers, there are a number of other features in the iPhone 6 and Apple’s recent upgrade to iOS8 that may also tip the balance in Apple’s favour in the coming months.  Australians may also be sold by the inclusion of NFC for mobile payments and the iPhone’s future compatibility with the stylish Apple iWatch, to come in 2015.


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