Per a new report from analytics firm Canalys, the North American smartphone market reached a five-year low during the first quarter of 2019. From record-high sales of 44.4 million handsets in Q1 2018, shipments tumbled down to 36.4 million units, and the consultancy firm says that this is the steepest decline ever recorded. The dismal performance has been attributed in part to Apple as well as ZTE, as the Chinese company was missing in action.
Although the overall market shrank, Samsung managed to increase its shipments by 3 percent when compared to the year-ago quarter. The South Korean powerhouse managed to sell 10.7 smartphones in North America during the first three months of the year, capturing a market share of 29.3 percent. Compared to the Galaxy S9 lineup, the Galaxy S10 series sold twice as much in the launch quarter, and Canalys says one of the reasons behind that is the earlier launch date.
Of course, it takes more than rescheduling the launch date of a handset to make it successful and per Canalys, the reason why the Galaxy S10 devices performed better than their predecessors in the North American market is that they became one of the first phones to bring a plenty of new features to the U.S., such as reverse wireless charging, pin-hole display, and ultra-wide angle lens. The Galaxy S10 Plus and Galaxy S10e raked in the most sales, with each making up 6 percent of the total shipments in the region. The phones were amongst the top three models in North America in the quarter.
Canalys has cautioned that it might become difficult for the South Korean giant to maintain this momentum, as competition is bound to intensify after other manufacturers start releasing their devices with new features. For instance, OnePlus is due to announce the OnePlus 7 series on May 14. Similarly, the attractively priced Galaxy S10e may lose its charm with the arrival of mid-range Google phones and ZTE's new offerings as it tries to reestablish itself in the low-end market.
Although Samsung managed to grow its market share and tighten the gap with Apple, the later continued to hold the lion's share of the market. The Cupertino giant saw its shipment decline by 19 percent on a year-on-year basis. With 14.6 million sales in the region, the iPhone maker had 40 percent of the market in the first quarter of the year. The iPhone XR emerged as the top-selling model in the area in Q1 2019 with 4.5 million sales.
With total shipments of 4.8 million units and a market share of 13.3 percent, LG was the third largest vendor in North America in Q1. Given the fact that the company is struggling globally, the result is rather surprising.
Lenovo and TCL grabbed the fourth and the fifth spots, and both the companies managed to buck the trend, as their annual growth was 42 percent and 31 percent respectively. Lenovo presumably benefited from robust Motorola shipments in the region while TCL's performance can be chalked up to BlackBerry sales.
The other vendors, which make up a paltry 6.8 percent of the market, witnessed their combined shipments decline by a whopping 65 percent. Overall, the results are largely in line with the rest of the market, with manufacturers pinning their hopes on 5G to give a boost to sales.