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iPhone 5 will fuel battle of LTE phones: analyst

2012/09/13 21:03:47

Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) The launch of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 will fuel competition in the superfast wireless broadband sector, as the handset comes equipped with long-term evolution (LTE) connectivity, a Taipei-based industry analyst said Thursday.

“It’s notable that the iPhone 5 will contribute to the popularity of LTE network,” Simon Yang, vice president of Topology Research Institute, said in a telephone interview.

Some top telecom carriers in the United States, such as AT&T Inc., are planning to shift more customers from their 3G network to the fourth-generation LTE network in a bid to revive their data revenue, Yang said.

Since LTE connectivity is 10 times faster than the current 3G network, AT&T will be able to charge 15 percent more than its average monthly 3G data service cost of US$49, he said.

It means telecom operators can offer LTE phones at lower prices in anticipation of higher revenues from data services, Yang said.

Given that Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. have also launched LTE models, the competition among smartphone makers will be in the area of software applications, he said.

“Take the ‘HTC Watch’ for example, it offers faster and more stable access to high-definition streaming video services on HTC phones,” he said. “Consumers are usually willing to pay more to carriers to enjoy such services.”

Apple’s iPhone 5, unveiled in the United States on Wednesday, is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S. The new model also sports a larger 4-inch retina screen and a faster A6 dual-core processor and is equipped with long-term evolution (LTE) wireless broadband connectivity.

The iPhone 5 will go on sale in nine countries Sept. 21, in 20 other countries Sept. 28, and will reach 100 countries by the end of the year, in the U.S. company's fastest roll-out ever.

In emerging markets, however, Apple is unlikely to win ground from Android phone makers and “white-box” manufacturers in the absence of telecom operators’ subsidies, said C.K. Lu, a Taipei-based analyst at research firm Gartner Inc.

A white-box smartphone is a model without a registered brand name, which usually goes on sale at a lower price than branded smartphones.

Lu noted that smartphones in emerging markets such as China are sold mainly through retail stores rather than telecom operators, which means consumers there are more sensitive to prices.

Moreover, many of Apple’s integrated functions on the iPhone 5 are only available in developed markets like the U.S. and Europe, which could cap the growth of iPhone 5 sales in emerging countries in Asia, he said.

(By Jeffrey Wu)