Samsung shipped just over 8 million units of Galaxy S9 and S9+ in the first four weeks after launch, said Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton.
The performance of Samsung is impressive as compared with Apple’s iPhone X. Canalys estimates that Apple shipped fewer than 14 million iPhone Xs in Q1 2018, down from 29 million in Q4 2017.
Research firm Canalys said the launch performance of the S9 series closely matched that of the S8 series in April 2017, but failed to surpass the 9 million achieved by the S7 series in March 2016.
However, a much greater percentage of shipments were of the plus model when compared with the S8, largely due to the dual cameras of the S9+ that are lacking on the cheaper S9, Canalys said. Samsung shipped 2.8 million S9/S9+ to the US, and close to 1 million to its home country of Korea.
“Samsung’s performance is impressive, considering the Galaxy S9 is not a major step up from the S8,” said Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton.
Samsung, as part of its strategy to beat Apple, has made significant improvements to its go-to-market strategy mainly focusing on supplying S9 to more markets at launch. Its designers, business team and engineers have made several upgrades by providing an aggressive global device trade-in program, with discounts to reduce costs to end users.
Samsung’s business decision makers are rating the performance of its regional teams on volume of shipments. The target is to sell more Galaxy S9 than Galaxy S8. Since some regional teams are offering discount on Galaxy S9, Samsung will sacrifice margin to defend its share in the global smartphone market.
The S7/S7 Edge remains one of Samsung’s best-selling Galaxy smartphones, with close to 48 million shipped in the launch year. The S8/S8+ shipped just 41 million units in comparison.
Samsung’s rival Apple had a disappointing quarter for its iPhone X.
“Apple’s iPhone X performance is an indication of the challenges that premium smartphones face,” said TuanAnh Nguyen, analyst at Canalys. “The novelty of premium smartphones is wearing off, and features such as 18:9 displays and dual cameras are being commoditized quickly to lower ASPs.”
While Samsung has tackled the issue of slowing demand for premium smartphones head-on by announcing trade-in programs and partner-driven offers, new smartphones from Huawei and Google’s Pixel smartphones are primed to dent its sales quicker than Samsung can anticipate.