Shares of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) dropped nearly 4 percent on Wednesday to a five-month low, bringing stock in the world’s most valuable tech company down by 20 percent from the all-time high it hit in September prior to the launch of its flagship smartphone, the iPhone 5.
Share prices fell as low as $553.35 during trading Wednesday before recovering slightly to close at $558. The steep drop outpaced that of the that the U.S. stock market in the aftermath of Tuesday’s presidential election due to fears of the impending fiscal cliff, a plunge that risks slipping Apple into bearish territory.
Apple shares have appreciated 38 percent this year thanks to strong sales and a positive reception to new devices like the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3. But the company faces mounting competition from a growing number of tablet and smartphone developers as the holiday season approaches. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Samsung Electronics (LON: BC94), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) have all released fresh line-ups of tablets and smartphones, the majority of which undercut Apple’s iPhone and iPad in price and available features.
Smartphones using Google’s Android operating system saw particularly strong growth. According to a research report from IDC released Nov. 1, 75 percent of all smartphones shipped during the third quarter this year.
Apple, meanwhile, has continued to struggle with shipping enough iPhone 5 units to meet the (admittedly strong) demand for the smartphone. Foxconn chief Terry Gou said Wednesday that manufacturing for the iPhone 5 has simply not been about to make enough iPhones, Reuters reported.
“It’s not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand,” Gou told reporters.
While Apple retained a strong lead in tablet sales, its market share slipped to 50 percent while Samsung more than double to 18.4 percent in the third quarter, according to an IDC report released Monday.
Apple’s newest tablet device, the iPad Mini, was finally released last week to mild skepticism due to its high price ($329) compared to similarly sized tablets and its relative lack of features compared to other iPads. CEO Tim Cook insisted that the company was already “practically sold out” of the new device after its first weekend on the market, but the company has remained uncharacteristically quiet about its exact sales figures.