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Delayed iPhone 12 launch worked out in Apple’s favor – Counterpoint

Market intelligence company Counterpoint Research suggests that the delayed iPhone 12 launch last year may well have worked out in Apple’s favor.

The firm says there were two benefits in the delay…

Apple sales fell

Counterpoint’s headline is that European smartphone sales in 2020 were down 14% on the previous year, and that Apple wasn’t immune, with sales falling 4% from 2019 levels.

2020 was a rollercoaster year for the European smartphone market. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the region hard, resulting in both supply and demand side issues. Meanwhile, economic concerns and employment worries led to consumers saving rather than spending, and widespread lockdowns meant that many consumers were unable or unwilling to visit retail stores and buy new devices.

Speaking about the overall market, Counterpoint Research’s Associate Director, Jan Stryjak said, “April was the worst month of the year, with sales down almost 50% on 2019. Declining cases and easing restrictions led to a recovery over the summer, but the virus came back with a vengeance. COVID-19 cases rose in September leading to new lockdowns across Europe from November. The end of the year, therefore, saw the market decline again, despite the best efforts of Apple (see below). Overall, 2020 saw the European smartphone market shrink by 14% versus 2019.”

But delayed iPhone 12 launch had benefits

But it notes that Apple fared better than the market as a whole, and believes the delayed iPhone 12 launch may have been good news rather than bad for the Cupertino company.

Apple may have declined slightly in 2020, but this doesn’t tell the full story. The decision to delay the launch of the iPhone 12 appears to have paid off, for two reasons. First, it gave the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE the opportunity to demonstrate remarkable longevity, selling continuously well in many markets throughout the year. And second, it built up demand for the new device which, when finally launched in October, sold spectacularly. In fact, the iPhone 12 was Apple’s most successful device launch to date, and drove Apple to a record share high of 30% in Q4 2020.

With many facing financial pressures through furlough or reduced hours, mid-range and budget brands did best.

Xiaomi was the major success story in Europe in 2020, becoming the third largest OEM in the region at expense of Huawei […] Oppo entered the European market in 2018, but 2020 was the year it gained some serious momentum. Partnerships with Europe’s largest operator groups – namely Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom – mean that Oppo’s devices are stocked in the vital operator channel throughout Europe […] Realme was the fastest growing brand in Europe in 2020, with sales increasing more than ten-fold on 2019. Its strong value proposition has led to good growth in more price-conscious markets such as Italy, Spain and across Eastern Europe.

Globally, Gartner said earlier this week that Apple enjoyed modest growth at the expense of Samsung.

Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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