According to the new report by research firm Counterpoint, US smartphone shipments remained flat during the third quarter of 2017. The quarter witnessed a highly competitive environment among carriers and OEMs in the prepaid segment.
"There were a few reasons for the stall after 2Q17's 14 percent YoY growth. First, the major carriers took a pause on the number of major marketing campaigns run including a much less aggressive iPhone 8/8Plus launch late in the quarter. In addition, the US market saw a significant number of Apple faithful opt to wait for the iPhone X," Research Director, Jeff Fieldhack.
He said that Apple also continued to grow share within prepaid channels with its 6S and SE whereas 7 and 7 Plus held serve benefitting from multiple BOGO and trade-in offers by carriers during the back to school season. However, the new iPhone 8 series saw a muted launch, by Apple standards, highlighting that many seasoned Apple users were willing to pay or at least have a look before shelling out the US$1,000+ price tag for the iPhone X.
Fieldhack, noted, "As per our retail surveys, the iPhone X launch saw higher store traffic than last year. Checks showed 256GB memory configuration sold slightly above 64GB on its opening weekend. Apple's guidance suggests the iPhone X will be a strong contributor to Apple's mix in CYQ4."
Meanwhile Research Analyst, Archana Srinivasan Highlighted on the star performer during the quarter, "Motorola made a significant comeback almost doubling its volumes and market share annually and was the fastest growing brand in Q3 2017. This allowed the Chinese vendor to jump back into the top five rankings after a long time."
Motorola's focus on affordable devices for prepaid/unlocked market and breaking out from shadows helped drive growth during the quarter. This signifies that muscle memory for the Moto brand is still strong among US consumers.
Srinivasan further added, "Motorola also benefitted in terms of visibility with presence across all four of the major carriers with its Moto Z2 Force Edition in the premium segment. The Moto E series was actually the key volume driver for Motorola during the quarter across prepaid and open channels."
However, the firm pointed out that in terms of best-selling smartphone models during the quarter, Apple took the lion's share capturing six out of top ten spots as iPhone 7 was the most popular smartphone in the USA. The Moto E4 and LG Stylo 3 were also solid performers.
It said that Samsung volumes are always paused during iPhone launch season but the premium tier continues to have large value share, especially strong within Verizon and T-Mobile. GS8, GS 8Plus, and the Note 8 and their high ASPs dominated Android sales.
Meanwhile, LG grew its share to 17.6 percent and is gaining on its Korean rival, Samsung, ZTE grew its smartphone volumes 34 percent YoY and Alcatel have been challenged seeing its market share drop 4.1 percent YoY due to an aging portfolio, higher churn at TracFone and muted sell-through of its BlackBerry brand.