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Will Apple Jump into the Booming Big-Screen Smartphone Market?


Large screens on smartphones are in demand -- it would be in Apple's best interest for its next iPhone to sport one.

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Canalys just reported its first-quarter smartphone market share numbers, and there's an interesting wrinkle that supports the case for the big-screen Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone that just about everyone expects this year.

According to Canalys' estimates, the smartphone market grew 29% year-over-year, but smartphones with 5-inch or larger screens grew by a whopping 369%. Globally, big-screen models represented 34% of shipments, while in Japan (a very strong iPhone market), they were 43% of sales.

In terms of market share for the big-screen segment, which is dominated by the big Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android players, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) has 44% of the market for 5-inch-plus devices, and 53% for 5.5-inch-plus devices.

These numbers imply a huge opportunity for Apple. Even without a big-screen model, the iPhone line did very well last quarter, and a bigger model would almost virtually guarantee a market share increase in the high end of the market.

Interestingly, ABI Research just released its own Q1 mobile phone sales numbers and noted this very interesting fact: Basic mobiles phone lost 5% worth of market share, and virtually all of it went to Android.

Apple has no real place in the low-end market, as the 5C just hasn't taken off. It's possible that people look at it and say, "If I'm going to buy an iPhone, I'm going to get the real one."

But that's OK -- if Apple does get a solid big-screen iPhone out this year, it's likely to do very well in the booming 5-inch-plus segment, which is starved for an Apple product.

It would also significantly offset the weakness in the iPad unit.

Now if Apple doesn't release a big-screen iPhone, I would assume that things will get ugly for the stock. But assuming it does happen, Apple could very well run higher in the back half of the year.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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