Will Apple 'Deck' the Competition's Sales This Holiday?

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The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that a whopping 74% of consumers will gift some kind of tech-related item this year. Given that tablets, notebooks, laptop computers, and smartphones all ranked among the most sought after items on holiday wish lists, Apple ( AAPL ) may be well poised to capture the top spot in holiday technology sales this year. Following Thanksgiving weekend, for example, CNET reported that sales of the iPad Air, Mini, and iPhone 5C were strong. Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) sentiment (based on an analysis of hashtag activity) from the same weekend led Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster to declare the iPad and iPhone "among the top gifts for 2013." But with two weeks to go in the shopping season, is it too early to declare Apple as the tech brand who has this holiday season all wrapped up? Here's a look at how Apple has fared among holiday shoppers so far.

Smartphones

In comScore's latest smartphone market data for October 2013, Apple claimed just over 40% of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) market share, followed by Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) , which ranked in a distant second with 25.4% market share. That said, a closer look into the numbers may hint toward a greater balance in the smartphone market. Though Apple's market share has been consistent over the last three months' worth of data through October, it hasn't grown. With the exception of a slight dip in August, Samsung's share has increased consistently from May through October. Further, Google's ( GOOG ) Android platform holds 52.2% market share.

Though TechCrunch recently reported that iPhone 5S (the higher end model with the higher price tag) users are adopting the new phone at rates between two and three times greater than they did with the iPhone 5, investors won't have a definitive read on just how successful Apple's new products have been at attracting holiday shoppers until January. That said, Apple is certainly doing everything in its power to keep the momentum going, domestically and abroad. Holiday shoppers who wander into one of Apple's 254 retail stores may be "notified" about product features and even possible upgrade opportunities by way of iBeacon , Apple's new location-based app designed to notify customers of product features in real time. Beginning December 12th, China Mobile will accept preorders for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

Tablets

Apple CEO Tim Cook boldly stated that 2013 will be "an iPad Christmas" on a conference call with analysts earlier this year, and according to preliminary holiday-spending data based on Thanksgiving weekend, his statement may prove prophetic. Consumer research data from InfoScout revealed that the iPad Mini and iPad Air (both variations) were among the top three items sold at Target ( TGT ) on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Perhaps more importantly, the data indicated that 40% of those purchases were actually conducted by Android smartphone users. Adobe's Digital Index supported Cook's prediction as well, including the fact that the iPad had the most "buzz" in social media over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend.

That said, the holiday season isn't just about attracting customers - it's about offering products that consumers can afford to buy for those on their gift lists.

Back in October, consumers surveyed by the National Retail Federation said that they intended to tighten their gift budgets and minimize "self-gifting" this year. Despite their popularity, Apple products tend to carry a higher price tag than rival products and aren't discounted. The Sam-sung Galaxy 3 10.1, for example, retails for about $359; Amazon's ( AMZN ) Kindle Fire HDX 7" tablet sells for $229, and includes parental controls and "Mayday" video tech support. By contrast, the iPad mini costs about $299. Price points for the iPad Air begin at $499. If consumers follow through on their plans to spend more conservatively this holiday season, who wins the tablet war may be driven as much by price parity as it is the actual features behind the technology.

Twitter: @WellnessOnLess



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Technology

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , AMZN , GOOG , TGT , TWTR

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