By Ramy Inocencio, CNN
(CNN) — Apple, the world’s most valuable company, became definitively less valuable on Monday after news the global tech giant halved its orders for screens for the iPhone 5.
According to Japan’s Nikkei news service, Apple had originally ordered 65 million iPhone screens for the 2013 January-to-March quarter from its suppliers which include Japan’s Sharp Corp. and South Korea’s LG Display Co.
Apple’s share price plunged 3.57% to $501.75 — its lowest point in 11 months — continuing its slide from September 19 when the company’s share price hit an all-time high of $702.10. Investors holding 100 shares of the company on that day would have lost more than $20,000 after Monday’s close of trading.
The reports of Apple’s cuts for LCD screens, as well as other parts, now have many fearing that demand for the iPhone 5 have been weaker-than-expected, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Just last month, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek already cut his estimate for iPhone shipment volumes for the first quarter of 2013, saying Apple had to “balance excess inventory” by cutting orders to suppliers.
In the global smartphone market, Apple has consistently trailed its biggest rival Samsung of South Korea. Fewer than two in ten smartphones that shipped in the third quarter of 2012 ran on Apple’s iOS operating software, according to researcher International Data Corporation. In the same quarter, Google’s Android software, which serves as Samsung’s operating platform, ran more than seven in ten smartphones around the world.
In the global tablet market, IDC expects Apple will have maintained its number one position in 2012 with a 53.8% market share — but that is a fall from a 56.3% share in 2011. At the same time, Android’s market share is predicted to have grown from 39.8% in 2011 to 42.7% for 2012.
“Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others,” said IDC in a press release.
To shore up some support, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook last week traveled to China for the second time in ten months — a visit interpreted by some as an effort to fight Apple’s falling market share in the country. Apple fell from fourth to sixth place in market share in the third quarter of 2012, according to IDC. In his same visit, Cook said he expects China will eventually surpass the United States as its largest market, though he did not give a time frame.
“We are continuing to invest in retail stores here and will open many more over the next several years,” said Cook. “We have some great sites selected, our manufacturing base is here, and we have incredible partners here. So it’s a very, very important country to us.”
In addition to dispatching its CEO, Apple is also expected to dispatch new iterations of its iPhone and iPad products, perhaps as early as June or July, which may propel the company’s stock price as past launches have in the past.
In the near-term, Apple is set to reveal earnings for its first fiscal year on January 23. That report will include profit numbers for the first full quarter in which the iPhone 5 was on sale.