There were much more movers and shakers in the US mobile landscape last quarter than the fact that Galaxy S8 took the top spot as the best selling Android. Research firm Counterpoint probed the different sales channels, and painted a very interesting picture for Q2. First off, the lull in smartphone sales is over, as many people are looking for an upgrade, and last quarter saw 14% growth year-on-year. surprisingly, out of the top 5 brands that sell in the US - Samsung, Apple, LG, ZTE and TCL-Alcatel - it was ZTE that racked up the largest growth percentage.
It sold 36% more handsets than the same period last year, as it has a strong presence in the ever-growing prepaid market with three of the four major carriers. What's more, ZTE is doing this on the hush-hush, without bragging much about it, while more notable Chinese brands like Huawei or Xiaomi haven't managed to penetrate the US market to such an extent.
When it comes to the big two - Apple and Samsung - they grew their share of the US market to 60% overall, and are disproportionally represented in carrier shops. Verizon, for instance, made about 80% of its sales from iPhones and Galaxies, while that percentage in the prepaid market is cut in half. As for LG, the G6 hasn't been a runaway success, but it still managed to increase its share to 15% thanks to robust channel presence of midrangers like the K-series. As for all the brouhaha around Pixel and Motorola phones, their market share is very low, though there could be light at the end of the tunnel according to Counterpoint's research chief:
Motorola's volumes dropped 2% YoY. However, the launch of the Z Force 2 across carriers will help. The major carriers are promoting "Moto Mods" (modular battery, speaker, projector accessories) at launch. The flagship launch could provide a halo effect for its entry devices, which have been successful selling in open channels. Google Pixel had 0.3% market share in the US market. The upcoming launch, if expanded across channels like the Z Force 2 and with sufficient supply, should be help Google carve out share in the important premium smartphone market.