While the iPhone 4 is still flying out of the stores at Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), the pace of sales seems to have started to slow. Recent checks with Verizon stores by BTIG analyst Walt Piecyk show that the new 4G LTE HTC Thunderbolt phone is outselling the iPhone 4 in some locations, according to a report on blog Boy Genius.
With Apple's annual tradition of introducing of an updated iPhone in the summer, sales typically cool in anticipation of the new model. This dip normally doesn't elicit big concerns among Apple watchers, but this year, facing hotter competition and a delayed iPhone 5, the pressure is more acute.
A longer wait for the iPhone 5 and the dazzling speeds of phones like the Verizon HTC Thunderbolt will translate to some lost business for Apple."Apple will likely cede some market share in the first half of this year now that Androids have caught up and even surpassed the iPhone," said Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar. Apple has emphasized that its upcoming World Wide Developers Conference, usually a launch pad for the new iPhone, will instead focus specifically on software. The consensus among analysts and bloggers is that the iPhone 5 will debut later than normal this year. And even though the new crop of Androids at Verizon will have the super-fast 4G LTE technology, the Apple iPhone 5 will not, as TheStreet reported in February. The delay of the iPhone 5 and lack of cutting-edge speeds won't help keep Apple's momentum in high gear. "Apple's iPhone 5 has to happen by September or they will miss the holiday season," said Kumar, adding that the iPhone is one of the biggest growth drivers for Apple, and any impact on sales is a big area of concern. The anxiety about the pace of Apple's sales growth have helped trim Apple's share price. Apple is down 4.5% since hitting an all-time high of $364.90 in mid-February. For comparison, Apple's performance has lagged the Nasdaq, which is only down 1.5% for the same period. "This is clearly worrisome," said Kumar. "Apple's is the one playing catch up now." Apple shares were down $1.77 to $346.77 in afternoon trading Friday. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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