US Q3 2019 Results Give Good Hint of What to Expect in Q4

Through the first two months (October/November) of 4Q19, there have been limited changes in the OEM structure of the US market. Apple has gained slight share and LG/Samsung have lost a small amount of share. HMD Nokia and OnePlus have gained share from tiny bases.

US 5G sales 2019 have surprised on the low side. Apple not participating is, of course, one large factor. Secondly, US operators have waited until there is significant low-band 5G coverage before getting more aggressive with promotions. Finally, the US is in need of mid-band spectrum and auctions are still in the distance.

4Q19 is shaping up to be very similar to 3Q19. So, it’s worth a look back at 3Q19. The US market declined 2% year-over-year in 3Q19. Operator marketing during the quarter was moderate as the Big 4 wait for better 5G coverage. The winners and losers during the quarter include:

  • Apple: Apple increased year-over-year with the help of the new iPhone 11 series. The initial launch week showed preference for the iPhone 11 Max and iPhone 11 Max Pro as yearly upgraders helped Apple move premium flagship devices. However, the iPhone 11 quickly became the flagship device of choice for budget conscious Apple fans. Apple continues to make headway with its services expansion, launching Apple TV+. For more on Apple’s 11-family launch, see here.
  • Samsung: Samsung declines another quarter. The Galaxy S10 series continues to see weakness in the premium line-up. The Note 10 shows promise and the Note 10 Plus 5G could become a strong 5G seller as carriers are experimenting with different monthly pricing configurations and financing options. A-series devices are doing well, but not enough to offset premium declines. For more details on Samsung’s outlook, see here.
  • LG: LG saw a steep year-over-year sell-through decline falling 31% during the quarter. LG sees continued declines in sales in its premium line-up. The V40 and G8 faced tough competition during launch months from the Apple iPhone 11 series and the Samsung Note 10 series. The LG Stylo 5 is a big hit, but the K-series devices are seeing more competition within prepaid channels.
  • Google: Google Pixel volumes grew 139% year-over-year as the Pixel 3a and 3a XL are overtaking sales of the Pixel 3. Google will look to the Pixel 4 in Q4 to help boost its premium device sales, however early market response for the device seems lackluster. Pixel sales are not putting any pressure on iOS sales.
  • Alcatel: Alcatel grew 36% year-over-year from a small base. Close to 36% of Alcatel’s sales came from KaiOS smart-feature phones from the Go Flip line-up. These are sold in both prepaid and postpaid channels. The Alcatel INSIGHT smartphone launched in Cricket at $79 and is free to switchers. This could be a volume driver going forward.
  • T-Mobile: For the 26th straight quarter, T-Mobile added at least one million subscribers. 764k were high-ARPU phone subscribers. For more details on T-Mobile, see here.  For Sprint’s latest details, see here.

For complete 3Q19 details, see here.