Samsung officially unveiled its flagship Galaxy S4 smartphone last night at a theatrical, Broadway-style presentation in New York, and analysts are quick to jump in today with opinions on what it means for Apple. AAPL is having a decent morning hitting a high of 442.50 and opinions from analysts seem to be split down the middle regarding whether the S4 has what it takes to cut into Apple's market share.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray doesn't seem too impressed with the S4 upgrade but noted Samsung's new S Band is "a quick first pass for Samsung on wearable technology ahead of Apple's watch. Munster added that he expects Apple to launch its smart watch product by 2014 (via Barron's):
The Galaxy S4 appears to be largely an incremental update to the S3 including a slightly larger screen (4% larger on diagonal), better camera and processor, and updated software, but largely the same body style and casing. We believe some of the software features are unique, including the tilt to scroll, video pausing based on facial recognition, and hand gesture based interactions, but view these software improvements as minor compared with what Siri was to the iPhone 4S or even Google Now to Android.
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek thought the S4 will be "incrementally negative for Apple" but doesn't view the S4 upgrade as "revolutionary" (via Zdnet):
We believe the S4 will certainly sell well and it is incrementally negative for Apple; however, the device is not revolutionary, in our view. Aside from the large screen size, which we believe gives Samsung a large advantage over Apple, we believe many of the features can easily be replicated. Additionally, a major complaint amongst Galaxy users is that they do not like Samsung's customized software, especially when it is a downgrade in performance from stock Android features. We wait to see the real world performance for the many new features. Misek did wonder if an iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 would be enough to hold Apple's fort against the phablet craze.
Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu lowered his price target today from $715 to $630 after the introduction of Samsung's Galaxy S4, while noting that recent supplier checks indicated production of current iPhones has slowed as Apple gears up for an iPhone 5S launch later this year. He doesn't, however, expect an iPhone with a larger screen until 2014 (via MarketWatch):
"We are picking up from our supplier checks build plan reductions for iPhone likely due to an inventory drawdown ahead of refreshes in the second half. In addition, we see evidence of sourcing activity for what appears to be iPhone 5S and a lower-cost iPhone using composite material casing,"
Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said today that recent supplier checks indicated Apple would launch its rumored low-cost iPhone with the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5. He also said the device will be made out of a "super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fiber" and come in four to six colors. Kuo claimed earlier this year that Apple will include a fingerprint sensor under the home button in an iPhone 5S, and today confirmed he still believed the device is coming later this year.
BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk chimed in yesterday, claiming a new low-cost iPhone is "necessary in order for Apple to grow its EPS next year" (via AllThingsD):
"We believe a product that addresses the more than 70 percent of global wireless subscribers that are unsubsidized pre-paid is necessary in order for Apple to grow its EPS next year," Piecyk writes. "This is not rocket science and our belief is based on basic logic, not questionable 'channel checks' or trips to Asia."
Barclays' Ben Reitzes thought Samsung's momentum "is a major issue for Apple," and the GS4 will be more competition as expected (via Fortune):
"In terms of competition vs. Apple, the GS4 seems largely as expected – and there could be some relief for Apple (certain versions of LTE won't be available until later this year). However, as we stated recently in a recent report – we believe that Samsung's momentum is a major issue for Apple. As a result, we need to see Apple expand its iPhone market this year in a big way – and improve its platform. However, Apple seems rather silent of late – and could be waiting until C3Q to make any competitive response outside of potential adjustments to pricing."