Market Monitor Q2 2014 : Samsung Leads the US Smartphone Market

According to latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor quarterly tracker program, USA smartphone shipments have begun to saturate as it grew a modest 2% annually and represent roughly 9 out 10 handsets shipped in the US market in Q2 2014

Some highlights during the quarter for the US smartphone market include:

  • Samsung topped both the overall mobile phones and smartphone segments capturing 37% and 36% share  in Q2 2014
    • The demand for Samsung’s smartphones and especially Galaxy S5 was healthy generating 50% more volumes than what Galaxy S4 witnessed last year
    • This was pretty ironic compared to the the softer and dipping global demand for its flagship which depicts that Samsung’s marketing has paid off to some extent in the US market
    • US market was thus the lone bright spot for Samsung this quarter as market shares slipped globally and especially across key markets such as India and China
    • Samsung performed well in one of its stronghold markets – USA – in what we can call a “Samsung” quarter
    • However, the upcoming holiday season quarter Q4 as usual would certainly be an “Apple” quarter as it unveils its new iPhone in September which means Samsung will have to pull off a feat with the upcoming Galaxy Note 4 to maintain share as Galaxy S5 demand begins to taper off
  • Apple’s iPhone volumes dipped 5% annually in its home market, as more consumers began to hold their purchases for the upcoming iPhone
    • However, Apple grew share and volumes in many other key markets globally (e.g. China)
    • In terms of carriers, Apple was the leading smartphone brand at AT&T but lost the top spot to Samsung at Verizon and Sprint
      Counterpoint Research Q2 2014 - US Smartphone Market Shares
  • LG the third largest handset and smartphone supplier saw its smartphone shipments grow a handsome 19% annually
    • The gains for LG were primarily in the high- to premium tier with the launch of LG G3 which has been received well and is contributing to LG’s top and bottom lines
  • Alcatel One Touch was the fourth largest handset supplier tied with ZTE in terms of volumes, whereas ZTE jumped up the rankings to become the fourth largest smartphone brand
    • Alcatel One Touch was the fastest growing brand as it gained from expanding its portfolio and channels taking share away from likes of Huawei and Samsung
    • Though the lack of LTE or CDMA handsets could slow down Alcatel One Touch’s  momentum sequentially
  • Microsoft Mobile (Lumia) volumes grew 66% annually and was the second fastest growing brand during the quarter
    • But Microsoft Mobile badly needs a hero premium device against likes of Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and upcoming Apple iPhone 6 which will drive volume share, revenue share and mindshare
    • Overall, Windows Phone share though remains minuscule compared to Android and iOS, Microsoft need more OEMs and carriers launching Windows Phone based smartphones in US
  • HTC’s shipments grew a healthy 25% annually above market average in its flagship HTC One (M8) launch quarter but captured a modest 4% share
    • However, sell-through for HTC has continued to weaken since late May and the Taiwanese vendor’s share will continue to slide in coming months

Q2'14 Smartphones Shipments Share Trend USA

Apple & Samsung have combined controlled two-thirds of the US smartphone market for since last 10 quarters and its turning into a zero-sum game. Overall, the competitive landscape in US market is now a three pronged race between Apple, Samsung and other players combined each owning roughly a third of the market. But during the respective launch quarters of Samsung & Apple we are witnessing the crest and troughs for both the smartphone giants capturing share from each other and emerge as leaders respectively. However, Samsung has been at advantage with staggered two flagship launches (e.g Galaxy S in March & Galaxy Note in September) during the year helping it to maintain healthy share. But it could be difficult for Samsung if Apple replicates the similar strategy launching multiple versions of iPhones (4.7″ & 5.5″ versions) twice a year e.g. in Q3 (Sep) & Q1 (Mar) timeframes respectively.