U.S. Smartphone Sell-Through Fell 25 Percent in Second Quarter

U.S. Smartphone Sell-Through Fell 25 Percent in Second Quarter

Just a case of bad timing? 


With the coronavirus pandemic and associated shutdowns in full swing for most of the quarter, smartphone sell-through in the U.S. dropped 25 percent in the second quarter, with every major manufacturer showing a decline. However, Apple’s launch of the iPhone SE in mid-April was considered a success, while the Samsung Galaxy S20, somewhat less so.

That’s according to a report released this week by Counterpoint Research, the preliminary US Smartphone Channel Share Tracker.


In the quarter, compared to the quarter the year before, Samsung dropped 10 percent, Apple dropped 23 percent, LG dropped 35 percent, and OnePlus, Motorola and ZTE all fell by more than 60 percent.

“Mid-March through mid-April saw the weakest sales as it was the height of the first COVID-19 lockdowns in the US,” Counterpoint’s North America Research Director, Jeff Fieldhack, said in the release. "April was the weakest month for smartphone sell-through as about 80% of smartphone sales channels were closed; sell-through volume was down over 50%. Smartphone sales for May through the end of June grew week-over-week. June 2020 sales were stronger than June 2019 sales, which shows the US smartphone market is resilient.”

The same firm had said, in May, that smartphone sales in the U.S. plunged 21 percent in the first quarter over the same time the year before.

He went on to note, however, that sales picked up in late April once Americans began receiving stimulus checks.

In addition, online sales jumped from 14 percent of total sales to 31 percent.

Fieldhack also said that while the launch of iPhone SE was not as splashy as the typical fall iPhone launch, “the device has been successful and selling above expectations in both postpaid and prepaid channels.” Also, it’s not expected that sales of the iPhone SE will cannibalize demand for the new iPhone lineup that’s expected to arrive this fall.

However, the pandemic very much affected the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S20, which also took place during the quarter.

“The timing of the S20 family launch was unfortunate,” Counterpoint’s senior analyst, Hanish Bhatia said in the release.  “Just as channels filled with devices, the majority of stores closed. This led to an estimated 38% fewer Galaxy S20 series activations than last year’s S10 series during the opening four months – March through June period. Many potential Galaxy S20 purchases will simply be pushed into Q3, but some will be lost.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to 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.

Image: Reuters.