The tech giant cleared around 51 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the company dubbed the quarterly result as the best ever for iPhone, which is also Apple's biggest money-maker in the past few years.
But impressive as the numbers are, market watchers are disappointed because the iPhone maker missed its pre-set mark of 56 million unit sales. The consensus is: Apple is losing its edge and the seemingly downward trajectory could impact the next iPhone build.
One way to avert this is to advance the planned iPhone 6 release date and there are three compelling reasons for Apple to take heed of the calls. They are provided below:
Waning consumer interest
In a new report, Business Insider faulted Apple for its insistence on a longer upgrade cycle that dictates on one iPhone model for every financial year. The problem with this approach, BI said, is Apple tends to lose traction with gadget buyers.
This is very crucial, the same report said, as unlike Google with Android devices, Apple relies solely on hardware sales to generate revenue. As the wait drags for the supposed power specs and killer features that the next iPhone will bring to the table, alternatives emerge and prompt buyers to look beyond.
And this is especially true for would-be first time iPhone buyers, many of whom turned off by the long wait for a lone iPhone build and ended up grabbing Android phones, which offer good deal - larger screen and equally capable inner components.
Last week, Google announced that Lenovo is buying its Motorola Mobility division. Industry watchers read the development as a way of catapulting Lenovo into the mobile device big league, meaning it won't be long before the Chinese PC makers becomes the third wheel in the tightening smartphone competition.
While Apple remains ahead of Samsung, the former has yet to totally turn back the Galaxy onslaught. Now the iPhone maker is facing the possibility of dealing not only with Samsung but also with Lenovo, which is expected to be propped up by its increasingly closer ties with Google.
That would translate into Lenovo and Motorola that are more optimised with Google's mobile platform - a prospect that doesn't look good at all for Apple and its rumoured iPhone 6.
Winding down telco gadget subsidy
The same report from Business Insider noted that the planned gadget subsidies from network carriers could see their end this 2014. Bad news for Apple as the company cannot deny the fact that a big bulk of its iPhone sales is fuelled by discounts offered by service providers. Consumers are drawn to iPhones for less than $200 in exchange for lock-in agreements.
That will soon disappear and to cushion the impact, Apple could opt to release the iPhone 6 in advance and attract loads of buyers before the telcos decide to totally ditch lower priced smartphones.
Should that happen, the playing field would be levelled and many budget-conscious device shoppers would definitely take a second look on Android smartphones, especially those in the flagship class, which in many cases are specced higher but with lower tag price.
In the event of an earlier iPhone 6 release date this 2014, the months to watch for should be between May and July, basing on recent notes from numerous analysts.
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