Here are your Apple rumors and AAPL news items for today:
Slipping: Apple‘s (AAPL) share of the smartphone market in Western Europe fell during the first quarter, AppleInsider notes. The analysis comes from industry research firm IDC, which found that the iPhone’s market share tumbled by 11% in Western Europe, compared to last year. Apple shipped 6.2 million iPhones to Western Europe during the first calendar quarter of the year, down from 7 million units during the same time last year. Its market share fell from 25% last year to 20% this year. By comparison, Samsung’s smartphone shipments to Western Europe rose from 10.9 million last year to 14.3 million in the first quarter of 2013. Its market share grew from 39% in the first quarter of 2012, to 45% this year. Europe’s struggling economy may have hurt sales of the relatively high-priced iPhone compared to lower-price Samsung models. In India, Apple has been pushed out of the top five smartphone makers by manufacturers of cheaper smartphones running Google‘s (GOOG) Android operating system, according to a report in the Times of India. The report appears to contradict earlier sales estimates from Credit Suisse (CS), which found that iPhone sales were soaring in India due to new discounts and trade-in offers from Apple.
New Online Store: Consumers in Russia now have their own online Apple store, MacRumors notes. The company added the Russian language store to its website on Wednesday, including a banner on its main page to notify Russian users. Rumors surfaced last summer that Apple was planning to launch an online store to facilitate direct sales in Russia. The company has faced distribution problems inside Russia, which it hopes to overcome with its own direct sales channel. Apple maintains an iTunes store in Moscow. Staff for its online store for Russia are based in Ireland. Russia is the ninth largest nation, by population, in the world.
Gaining: When Apple launched its Passbook digital gift card wallet last year, many retailers were skeptical of the service, USA TODAY notes. However, in the months since the launch, Passbook has taken a surprising share of the digital gift card market. According to digital gift card supplier CashStar, roughly one-third of digital gift cards are opened on a smartphone. Of those about two-thirds are opened on an iPhone. Of those, about 30% are entered into Passbook. A CashStar executive noted that many retailers were initially cautious to join Passbook, but are now moving to embrace the service as more iPhone owners use the service. In addition to gift cards, Passbook has won support from the majority of airlines.
For more about the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.