Apple's share of the worldwide smartphone market will peak this year at 22 per cent, and then remain flat through 2018, according to a new market forecast from ABI Research.
The tech giant will continue to come in second to rival Samsung, which is expected to hold the top spot in the smartphone market for years to come. Samsung's market share grew from 8 per cent in 2010 to more than 30 per cent last year, ABI senior analyst Michael Morgan, said in a statement.
"Barring an unlikely collapse in Samsung's business, even Apple will be chasing Samsung's technology, software, and device leadership in 2013 through the foreseeable future," Morgan said.
Samsung has seen success with its Android-powered devices, which account for 90 per cent of the company's smartphone shipments. ABI predicted that the smartphone OS landscape will be "heavily influenced" in the future by how much importance Samsung places on operating systems like bada, Tizen, Windows Phone, and Android.
Overall, ABI said that by 2014, smartphones will account for half of all global handset shipments. Moreover, by 2018, smartphones are forecast to make up 69 per cent of the projected 2.4 billion handset shipments around the world.
Going forward, growth in smartphone shipment penetration will be driven by low-cost devices, ABI said. The firm forecasted that smartphones with price tags less than $250 (£158) will account for 62 per cent of smartphone shipments by 2018.
On a related note, rumours are heating up that Apple is currently developing a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets around the world. A recent Digitimes report claimed the company is planning to roll out a low-cost iPhone in China and other regions in the second half of 2013.
Meanwhile, ABI expected that LTE devices will also quickly gain market share, accounting for 35 per cent of all handset shipments and 50 per cent of all smartphone shipments in 2018. LTE handsets are attractive to consumers not just because of the fast speeds they offer, but also because they usually come with premium features like top-of-the-line screens and application processors.
"With the successful launch of the iPhone 5 and competing LTE handsets from other leading [manufacturers], LTE handsets will be found in the hands of many consumers who do not even have access to LTE networks," ABI senior practice director Jeff Orr said in a statement. "Apple is demonstrating to the market that LTE is not the only reason to buy a premium handset."
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