Motorola Snags More of US Smartphone Market as Apple Dips

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Total third-quarter shipments of smartphones into the U.S. market fell by 2% year over year, from 40.1 million units to 39.5 million. One-time mobile phone giant Motorola nearly doubled its shipments and its U.S. market share during the quarter, while leader Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) saw shipments fall from 13 million units to 12 million and market share dip from 32.5% to 30.4%.

Motorola is owned by Beijing’s Lenovo, which bought the company from Google — now Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) — for $2.9 billion in 2014. In 2012, Google paid $12.5 billion for the phone maker and Motorola’s massive patent portfolio. The patents remained with Google when the handset business was sold.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, which released the quarterly report Tuesday morning, said, “The US smartphone market slowed down, due mostly to mixed demand for new iPhones from industry leader Apple.”

The new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were shipped in September, but if recent news reports on sales of the iPhone X are accurate, many consumers waited for the more expensive phone before laying down their cash.

Other top smartphone makers, along with their respective shipment totals and market shares. were:

  • Samsung: 9.9 million shipments, up 2% year over year; 25.1% share, up 0.9 points
  • LG Electronics: 6.8 million shipments, up 4.6% year over year; 17.2% share, up 1.0 point
  • ZTE: 4.6 million shipments, up 27.7% year over year; 11.6% share, up 2.5 points
  • Motorola: 2.1 million shipments, up 91% year over year; 5.2% share, up 2.5 points

Strategy Analytics also commented on each of the top sellers:

Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8 performed relatively well in the high-tier, while its A5 model and others are popular in the mid-tier.

LG has expanded its retail presence at major operators this year, like Sprint and AT&T, and this is helping LG to stay one step ahead of ambitious new rivals such as ZTE.

ZTE is benefiting from strong demand in the prepaid segment, particularly with operator Tracfone. ZTE has been capturing large chunks of smartphone share from midrange rivals such as TCL-Alcatel and Blu.

Motorola’s recovery has been driven by expanded distribution with all top four US carriers, selling popular new models such as Moto Z2 Play.