Happy Friday the 13th: Apple Flashback Update and Booming Smartphone Sales

By Peter Bernstein April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th (aka “Black Friday”) tends to be a field day for the superstitious and filled with predictions of dark clouds on the horizon for those who are not careful. While it is ironic that on such a black day global stock markets went in the red direction, there is some reason to cheer. Two items caught my eye:

  1. It did not take long for Apple to find a cure for the Flashback malware that put the fear of God into over 600,000 Mac users worldwide earlier this week. Click here for info.
  2. Credit Suisse is predicting salse of smartphones will top 1 billion in 2014


The Apple fix really is good news. In addition to removing the most common version of Flashback from infected systems, Apple is claiming it is designed to protect against future Java infections. In fact, the security folks at Apple were very explicit: 

“This update also configures the Java web plug-in to disable the automatic execution of Java applets. Users may re-enable automatic execution of Java applets using the Java Preferences application. If the Java web plug-in detects that no applets have been run for an extended period of time it will again disable Java applets.”

My daughter can rest easier and now all of those Apple sales people can go back to touting Apple being “safer” than Windows. We shall see. However, having chided Apple for not being responsive it is wroth giving credit where credit is due.

That’s a lot of smarts!

The Reuters item cited a number of interesting factoids from the brokerage firm’s report:

  • Strong demand from China (which will likely account for 22 percent of worldwide sales in 2015) and cheaper low-end handsets will fuel the buying binge
  • Global sales will grow about 46 percent to 687.9 million units this year and will touch 1.05 billion units in 2014.
  • Apple will be the big winner in terms of market share with Nokia rebounding from its recently poor performance and gain an 11 percent share in the long term.
  • Other winners are likely to be Samsung and Huawei.
  • Motorola Mobility Holdings, HTC, Sony Corp, and Research In Motion (RIM) were noted losers.

They also concluded that wireless chipmaker Qualcomm will be a big beneficiary as its license business maintains robust growth. 

Some context for all of this comes from Gartner who back in February released some eye-popping numbers of its own which are worth a look to see how your favorite vendor was doing for the last few years. Highlights included:

  • Smartphone sales for 2011 were 472 million and accounted for 31 percent of all mobile devices sold for the year.
  • This was a 58 percent rise for the category over 2010 as total mobile phones sales of 1.8 billion units represented a rise of 11.1 percent over 2010.

It also comes from Cisco who in its Visual Networking Index postulated there would be 10 million mobile phones by 2016. In case you are counting, that is 1.4 devices per person on the planet. As mentioned, that is a lot of phones. Guess it is good we tend to use them one at a time, albeit often while watching television.

This is a case of the glass being either half full or half empty. Even taking a conservative view of smartphone adaption, that is a lot of phones. Without handicapping the device vendor horse race, it will be interesting to see if the smartphone market ends up being like the airline industry where there is lots of demand but the airlines for the most part lose money. It certainly bodes well for the Apple and Android stores, and if you believe that Nokia is going to be a player Microsoft should get well as the tide rises too.

The dark side of the story is what does this mean for service providers. All of those smartphones have bit-hungry apps. In an age of scarce spectrum, falling ARPU and customer disloyalty, how networks are going to handle the coming data storm and remain profitable is the multi-billion even trillion dollar question. Usage plans and WiFi offload may not be enough. 

I am not a financial analyst and trust me that is a good thing. However, history says that in times of trouble the arms suppliers (device, component and app suppliers) prosper while those firing the weapons (service providers) struggle. 

Thank God it is Friday (TGIF)! No Friday the 13th next month. Think we can use a break.  

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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