The popularity of the iPhone and the App store is driving Apple’s growth so rapidly that it will overtake Nokia in smartphone market share in just four years. A report from Generator Research predicts Apple will sell 77 million iPhones by 2011, the same year its rising star crosses paths with Nokia’s falling sales numbers.
Current trends suggest Nokia’s share will drop from 40% today to around 20% in 2013. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to continue grabbing share, hitting 33% in the same year. Generator attributes Apple’s growth to the positive feedback loop created between the iPhone and the App Store, with each one driving business to the other (the advent of the $99 iPhone 3G isn’t hurting either). While the iPhone is Apple’s only smartphone concern, Nokia is spread far too thin, focusing on selling cheaper phones in developing countries while also trying to mind the smartphone store.
Apple’s success could end up being its Achilles heel, of course. Like so many indie bands and boutique coffee chains before it, Jobs and company run the risk of losing their cachet if they grow too big too fast. Part of Apple’s appeal has always been its exclusivity: Macs are part of an exclusive club, while PCs are just another way to be average. When everyone has an iPhone, will everyone still want an iPhone?