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Apple (AAPL) Becomes Highest Smartphone Seller after 8 Quarters

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Reportedly, Apple Inc.’s (AAPL - Free Report) smartphone unit sales outpaced that of Samsung in the fourth quarter of 2016.

According to data released by Gartner, Apple unit sales outnumbered Samsung by 256,000. The global smartphone market share of the iPhone maker is 17.9%, just 0.1% higher than Samsung.

The report further adds that the last time Apple recorded the highest unit sales was in the fourth quarter of 2014, riding on the success of iPhone 6 and 6s. This time around, it’s probably the dual camera and jet black color of the latest iPhone 7 and 7s that has worked for the company.

Apple iPhone sales are likely to rise in the upcoming months given the increasing issues with Samsung phones. The company received a lot of flak for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and recalled the same from the market, which resulted in depleting sales in the last two quarters. Moreover, the arrest of the company chief, Jay Y. Lee, on Friday, might create more wariness toward the brand. Therefore, consumer skepticism is likely to continue for Samsung, and Apple expects the number of switchers to increase. Additionally, the buzz surrounding iPhone 8, dubbed already as a “super cycle” should allay investors’ fear about iPhone sales trajectory and help its market performance.

In the last few months, Apple has increased its focus on India, which is expected to become the second largest smartphone market in the world. In fiscal 2016, Apple sales in India grew approximately 50% over the prior fiscal. Apple is optimistic about long-term growth prospects in this region.

Nonetheless, the smartphone market conditions are highly competitive. Though Apple and Samsung remain the lead players, they are plagued by stiff competition. Notably, a major portion of the market is seized by the growing dominance of Chinese smartphone manufactures like Huwaei, Oppo and others.

Going ahead, Apple is also expected to benefit from its robust cash position, strength in technology, the ecosystem that it has built and its loyal customer base. Further, its enterprise collaborations with the likes of Deloitte, IBM Corp. (IBM - Free Report) , Cisco and SAP SE (SAP - Free Report) are expected to be important long-term growth drivers.

Moreover, Apple has outperformed the Zacks categorized Computer Mini industry in the last one year. While the stock returned 40.47%, the industry gained 39.96% over the same period.

Zacks Rank & Stock Movement

At present, Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

A better-ranked stock in the wider technology space is Oclaro Inc. (OCLR - Free Report) , which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the trailing four quarters, Oclaro recorded a positive average earnings surprise of 75.00%.

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