* Apple iPhone 4S fails to impress investors, fans
* Scope for rivals to grab market share ahead of Christmas
* Apple to continue selling older models, seen opening new
* Samsung shares up 1.7 pct, Nokia up 2.5 pct, LG 0.4 pct,
HTC 0.6 pct
* Shares in Apple suppliers decline
(Adds further details)
By Clare Jim and Miyoung Kim
TAIPEI/SEOUL, Oct 5 Rival smartphone makers
could exploit a rare letdown by Apple in the launch of
its new iPhone 4S model, which failed to wow fans, and grab a
bigger share of the most lucrative part of the phone market.
However, analysts also noted that Apple has decided to keep
older iPhone models and slash their prices, potentially helping
the company to expand sales in lower-end and developing markets,
where Nokia and Samsung have dominated.
"Apple no longer has a leading edge, its cloud service is
even behind (Google's mobile operating system) Android;
it can only sell on brand loyalty now," said Gartner analyst
C.K. Lu in Taipei.
"Users may wait to buy the next iPhone; if they can't wait,
they may shift to brands with more advanced specs."
The iPhone -- introduced in 2007 with the touchscreen
template since adopted by rivals -- has proved to be the gold
standard in the booming smartphone market, and its surging sales
have hit the ambitious plans of many competitors.
But shares in Samsung Electronics , HTC
and LG Electronics , which all make phones using
Google's Android operating system, ended higher after Apple
unveiled the iPhone 4S at its Cupertino, California headquarters
In Europe shares in Nokia and Ericsson
(ERICb.ST), half-owner of Sony Ericsson smartphone venture, were
both 2.4 percent higher by 0815 GMT on Wednesday.
"Nokia should benefit from the fact that Apple chose not to
play the design card this time around and that unlike some
rumours, there will not be anything new aimed at the key
mid-range market," analysts from Nordea said in a note.
The new iPhone 4S is identical in form to the previous
model, disappointing fans who had hoped for a thinner,
bigger-screened design of a product that had not been updated
for more than a year.
While the device's high-tech wizardry such as voice commands
-- for sending messages, searching for stock prices and other
applications -- caught the attention of many analysts, it might
not be enough to make it a must-have for consumers.
"Major concerns for Samsung had been that its smartphone
momentum will decelerate with Apple's new iPhone, but that is
now less of a concern as the new iPhone failed to excite many,"
said Kim Young-chan, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp in
On Wednesday Samsung also said it would file for a sales ban
on the new iPhone with courts in France and Italy, alleging that
the phone infringed its mobile technology patents, widening an
already extensive legal battle with its arch
Apple also revealed on Tuesday that it is cutting the price
of the previous iPhone 4 model to $99 on a network service
contract, and said the even older 3GS model will be available
for free on contract. This allows Apple to hit the low-end
smartphone market it had once eschewed.
Even before the low-cost phone, Apple was set to
exponentially grow its China business as it stitches deals with
operators in the world's largest mobile phone market, home to
more than 900 million subscribers.
Apple faces a tough battle in India, the world's
second-biggest market for mobile phones with more than 850
million subscribers, where smartphones account for just over 5
percent of the total mobile handset sales.
"Very aggressive pricing in the higher-end category of
smartphones is unlikely in India in the near future, primarily
because the volumes are not strong enough to justify that kind
of play in that segment," said Deepak Kumar, research director
at IDC India.
TOP SELLING SMARTPHONE
Phones based on Google's Android, which is available for
free to handset vendors such as Samsung, HTC, LG and Motorola
, have a greater combined market share than Apple's
iPhone, which is still the world's biggest-selling smartphone.
"There are still many consumers who don't have the iPhone
experience, and Apple still has a lot of markets and carriers to
enter, so when there's a new model with better specs, it helps
to lift shipments," said Ming-chi Kuo, analyst at Concord
Securities in Taipei.
"The iPhone 4S targets users who are expiring on their
two-year 3GS contract."
Apple sold a record 20.3 million iPhones in the April-June
quarter, with analysts estimating Samsung smartphone sales at
19 million handsets, well ahead of Nokia's 16.7 million.
The lukewarm reception given for the new phone
also hit shares in Apple's suppliers.
Taiwan's Hon Hai , Apple's biggest supplier, was
down 1.9 percent, while casing company Foxconn Technology
fell 6.9 percent. Camera module maker Largan Precision
shed 6.6 percent.
"The casing companies should be the most-hit, correcting
from the previous rise, because the market has expected a metal
case for the new iPhone," said Mike Fang, a fund manager of
Paradigm Asset Management.
In Japan, the country's second-largest mobile carrier KDDI
will sell Apple's new iPhone, ending rival operator
Softbank's reign as the sole provider in Japan.
(Additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Helsinki, Argin Chang
in Taipei and Devidutta Tripathy in New Delhi; Writing by
Anshuman Daga; Editing by Alex Richardson, Greg Mahlich)