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iPhone Crowned King of the Smartphone Hill for July

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 4, 2007 4:11 PM PT

The Apple iPhone outsold any other other smartphone in July, and essentially tied the sales of the most popular feature phone, market research firm iSuppli reported Tuesday.

iPhone Crowned King of the Smartphone Hill for July

"The iPhone accounted for 1.8 percent of all mobile handset unit sales to U.S. consumers during July, or 220,000 units," Jonathan Cassell, iSuppli's editorial director and manager of public relations, told MacNewsWorld. "The total sales of all mobile handsets in the U.S. were 12.2 million units for the month."

The research results come from iSuppli's U.S. Consumer Panel Survey, which iSuppli conducts online through a database of 2 million U.S. consumers. iSuppli uses its panel to gather data on a variety of consumer electronics products.

iSuppli classifies the iPhone as a crossover phone, which means it competes with both smartphones and feature phones -- but isn't exactly either type of mobile device. While the iPhone has some features associated with smartphones, users can't load third-party software onto the product, which is a key requirement to qualify for iSuppli's smartphone status. iSuppli defines feature phones as handsets that have rich functionality.

As Good as Chocolate

"The two models of the iPhone now on the market outsold all smartphones in July, including the BlackBerry series, the entire Palm portfolio, and any individual Motorola, Nokia, Samsung or other smartphone model from a branded service provider," the iSuppli report noted. "The iPhone's U.S. sales in July were equal to those of the most popular feature phone, LG's Chocolate."

While iSuppli's report covers consumer electronic purchases, it doesn't claim to cover enterprise or business purchases made for employee use, which means that smartphone manufacturers may have sold phones through non-consumer channels that may not be reflected in iSuppli's report. iSuppli analysts were not available to clarify as of press time.

Regardless, consumer-focused sales seem to be the iPhone's sweet spot. "While the speed of the iPhone's ascent to the top of the smartphone and feature phone charts is remarkable, it's equally amazing that Apple achieved this in the face of numerous, well-entrenched competitors," iSuppli noted.

Sales on the Rise

iSuppli also predicts that the iPhone will sell 4.5 million units in 2007, close to 15 million in 2008, and more than 20 million in 2009.

In its third fiscal quarter, which ended June 30, Apple reported that it had sold 270,000 iPhones in 30 hours -- the phone went on sale June 29 at 6 p.m. Apple's next fiscal quarter ends September 30.

PiperJaffray Analyst Gene Munster forecasts similar sales numbers for the iPhone. "iSuppli suggests 765,000 phones in the quarter," he told MacNewsWorld. "Our note today expects 804,000 in the September quarter."

For all of 2007 and 2008, Munster's predictions are a bit more conservative, however. "In 2007 we are looking for 3.5 million, and 2008 [we expect Apple to sell] 12 million iPhones," he noted.

On Wednesday, Apple will hold one of its high-profile press events, in which industry insiders expect Apple to introduce new touch-screen iPods, perhaps with built-in WiFi capability. Rumors also have been flying about a new iPhone nano. If Apple were to deliver a smaller iPhone this year, the action would send analysts into forecast overdrive.

Who's Buying

iSuppli's research also gleaned a few demographic nuggets. Of the American iPhone purchasers in July, 57 percent were 35 years old or younger; 52 percent were male; and 62 percent had a four-year college degree or more education.

Plus, iSuppli reports that 25 percent of iPhone purchasers switched to AT&T service.

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