Apple and Samsung Lost Share as Motorola Gains in US Smartphone Market: Canalys

Apple and Samsung have lost the smartphone share in the US market during the third quarter of 2023, according to Canalys, a leading market research firm.
Canalys report on US smartphone market in Q3 2023The smartphone share of Apple has dropped to 55 percent from 57 percent in the US. Samsung’s share in the smartphone market in the US fell to 22 percent from 24 percent.

Apple, although facing an 8 percent decline in shipments, remained a dominant force, contributing 17.2 million units to the market. The delayed launch of the iPhone 15, compared to its predecessor, the iPhone 14, was identified as a key factor in Apple’s modest downturn.

Samsung experienced a slight recovery from Q2 2023, shipping 6.8 million units, with its new foldable devices accounting for over 20 percent of its shipments.

Motorola, achieving its best quarter since Q2 2022, captured 9 percent market share and saw a commendable 14 percent year-on-year growth in shipments.

TCL and Google Pixel rounded out the top five, each holding 4 percent market share and shipping 1.3 million and 1.2 million units, respectively.

There was a 5 percent year-on-year contraction in the US smartphone market during Q3 2023, marking a continuation of the downward trend. Despite this overall decline, the quarter witnessed a substantial sequential growth of 21 percent, with shipments reaching 31 million units. The surge was attributed to Apple’s latest iPhone release and strategic carrier promotions aimed at encouraging premium device upgrades.

“The US smartphone market is stabilizing, but there is no expectation that Q4 will make a turnaround,” Analyst Runar Bjorhovde from Canalys said.

He attributed the slump to challenges in the wireless telecommunications industry affecting device promotions and subsidies. Despite robust subscriber net additions and upgrade rates from tier-1 carriers, device sales still trailed last year’s figures. Carriers are prioritizing service revenue through flexible plans and customer retention initiatives, leading to a cautious approach to aggressive device promotions.

Le Xuan Chiew, Analyst at Canalys, highlighted the strong start of the iPhone 15 series in September 2023, constituting 34 percent of all iPhone sales in the US during Q3. However, there is a growing trend among users to opt for older generations, refurbished devices, or retain their current phones longer. This shift in consumer behavior poses challenges for Apple, requiring a recalibration of its portfolio, marketing strategy, and carrier partnerships.

The prevailing sluggishness of the US market could pave the way for a shake-up of established market dynamics. Carriers are focusing on reshaping prepaid business structures and refreshing postpaid offerings. The prolonged high-cost business environment suggests that demand recovery will take longer, with implications for consumer purchase behavior.

Canalys anticipates a mild recovery in 2024 as carriers’ adjustments in 2023 set the stage for potential market shifts. Vendors are urged to initiate preparations for evolving channel dynamics in the coming years.

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