For the first time since it launched, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 4S is not the top-selling smartphone in the United States, according to channel checks performed by Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley. The Cupertino-based company is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone next week, leading a large number of consumers to delay their smartphone purchases until then. At the same time, Samsung (005930) is pushing its newly released Galaxy S III smartphone, which has become the best-selling device on three of the four major U.S. carriers. The iPhone 4S remained the top-selling smartphone on AT&T (T), although the Galaxy S III was able to outsell the handset at Verizon (VZ) and Sprint (S).
Despite Samsung’s recent success, however, Walkley believes that come October, the next-generation iPhone will reclaim the crown and remain there even if the court doesn’t ban Samsung’s devices. The analyst expects the “iPhone 5” to include 4G LTE connectivity and a “new hardware form factor,” which will result in record sales. Walkley reiterated his Buy rating on Apple stock as well as his $797 price target.
“We believe Apple’s industry-leading software ecosystem and leading hardware expertise will lead to a strong multi-year product cycle for its key products, Walkley wrote in a note to investors. “We believe Apple is well positioned for very strong F2013 sales and earnings growth driven by new product introductions, including the recent refresh of the MacBook Air and Pro series, an LTE iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and potentially iTV in C2013. We reiterate our BUY rating and $797 price target.”
As the competition between Apple and Samsung continues, sales of both Nokia (NOK) and RIM (RIMM) smartphones remain very weak. “Our checks indicated weaker sales for the Nokia Lumia 900 at AT&T and ongoing minimal BlackBerry sales at all four U.S carriers,” the analyst said, noting that the Galaxy S III also gained share from RIM and Nokia in Europe.
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