Speculation centers on Sept. 20 for iPhone 5S debut

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Speculation centers on Sept. 20 for iPhone 5S debut

The much-anticipated Apple iPhone 5S, set to compete with the best-selling Samsung Electronics Galaxy S4, is expected to debut on Sept. 20, according to Dave Smith, technology editor for the International Business Times.

The estimated debut date assumes that Apple will follow the pattern of the iPhone 5, which was released two days after the introduction of its operating system, iOS 6. Apple released iOS 6 100 days after it was unveiled. The operating system for the iPhone 5S will be iOS 7, scheduled to be released on Sept. 18. The iPhone 5 was released on Sept 12, 2012.

Smith predicted that a colorful and low-cost iPhone, primarily aimed at the developing markets of China and India, will come out on Sept. 27 or Oct. 4.

Both iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 compete in the high-end smartphone segment, but their sales have been more sluggish than expected. Although Samsung shipped 10 million units of the S4 in the month after its release in April, the volume shrank in the following months. Sources from its parts suppliers say Samsung ordered parts to build 8 million units in June and 6.5 million units in July.

Apple does not release sales data. Oppenheimer analyst Ittai Kidron said in his report last month that iPhone sales are expected to be 26 million for the March-June quarter, down from his earlier forecast of 27 million. The grim situation has fanned speculation that Apple will diversify its product lineup with a lower-end iPhone - just like it did with the iPad mini.

Samsung, according to sources familiar with the situation, will showcase the third version of its highly popular Galaxy Note phablet at the upcoming IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin on Sept. 4 - 16 days before the predicted iPhone 5S debut. Much is at stake with the Note 3, assumed to be sized between 5.7 and 5.99 inches because of low demand for the S4.

Meanwhile, ahead of the Korean tech giant’s scheduled release of its second quarterly earnings guidance on Friday, Citigroup yesterday downgraded the target price of Samsung shares by 1 percent, from 1,970,000 won ($1,737) to 1,950,000 won. The American financial group predicted in its report that Samsung’s mobile phone business, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the company’s operating profits, would fall 8 percent this year.

Samsung shares yesterday closed up 0.7 percent to 1,335,000 won. Samsung shares have taken a rollercoaster ride recently - in tandem with fluctuations in the Korean stock market in the aftermath of the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s signal on June 19 that the Fed’s bond-buying program could end by mid-2014. Samsung went so far as to hit a year-low of 1,261,000 won on June 26. In the past month, the shares tumbled 12.9 percent.

However, a majority of Korean securities firms have maintained Samsung’s target price of up to 1,970,000 won. “Despite worries over slowing profitability of smartphones, Samsung’s earnings results won’t hugely deviate from our estimates - thanks to improved earnings from semiconductors and Amoled [active-matrix organic light-emitting diode] panels,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst with IBK Investment & Securities.

BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]
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