Why U.S. Smartphone Sales Dropped in the First Quarter
Sales of smartphones in the United States dropped 6 percent in the first quarter, thanks to both continuing supply chain constraints and the lack of a “stimulus money boost” this year.
Sales of smartphones in the United States dropped 6 percent in the first quarter, thanks to both continuing supply chain constraints and the lack of a “stimulus money boost” this year. That’s according to data released this week by Counterpoint Research’s US Monthly Smartphone Channel Share Tracker.
In terms of market share, Apple once again led with 47 percent of the smartphone market, followed by Samsung with 28 percent, Motorola with 12 percent, and TCL with 3 percent. OnePlus and Google also placed in the low single digits. The rankings were exactly the same in the first quarter of 2021, although in that quarter Apple had 54 percent, Samsung 25 percent, and Motorola 6 percent.
“While Q1 2022 did see weaker sales compared to last year, this needs to be seen in context. It is not a sign of the market contracting because last year’s Q1 was unusually high due to several factors driving demand,” Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint's research director, said in the release.
Counterpoint also noted that the iPhone 13 lineup from last year made up nearly 80 percent of Apple’s iPhone sales, which it called the “highest sales mix” for new devices ever. And part of TCL’s strength came from its recovery from shutdowns in 2020.
"Apple’s iPhone 12 series sales pushed into Q1 2021 due to its staggered launch causing higher premium demand in a usually soft quarter. $1,500 stimulus checks were also given out, which helped boost the economy that was suffering from COVID-19 impacts. LTE sales saw an uptick due to tax-season discounts and pent-up demand in Q1 2021. Looking at Q1 2022, there were still solid performances from Apple and Samsung, with Motorola, Google, TCL and OnePlus seeing YoY increases in volumes due to LG’s exit.”
On the market share question, Counterpoint’s research analyst Matthew Orf noted that the top two have solidified their lead.
“Apple and Samsung continued to dominate the market with a combined 75% share and had some of their best performances to date. However, some attention should also be brought to smaller OEMs that are beginning to capture more mindshare of consumers due to LG’s exit. Motorola has been very aggressive, becoming the third-largest OEM in 2021,” he said in the release.
The firm also looked ahead.
“There are certainly some headwinds coming which may impact the outlook for the rest of 2022, but we remain cautiously optimistic. The US GDP fell 1.4% in Q1 2022, but consumer spending actually rose 2.6% YoY. Smartphones are often insulated from inflationary pressures, especially higher-end devices from Apple and Samsung. But the low end may be more affected in the coming months due to less attractive deals or promotions,” Senior Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne said in the release.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.