Samsung Leads Apple in March 2018 Quarter in US

Loyalty Improving as Brands Maintain Shares

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC (CIRP) today released analysis of the results of its research on mobile phone operating systems and brands for the calendar quarter that ended March 31, 2018.

This analysis features findings about market share trends in mobile phone brands in the US from January-March 2018. CIRP research shows that in the March 2018 quarter, Samsung accounted for 39% of US mobile phone activations in the third quarter (Chart 1). Apple had 31%, with LG next at 14%. All other brands accounted for 17% of activations.

 Chart 1: Brand Share of Mobile Phone Activations

Chart 1: Brand Share of Mobile Phone Activations

As in most quarters, Samsung had the greatest share of activations. Shares of course vary seasonally and based on product launches. Apple led in the December 2017 quarter, following the launch of new iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and including the launch of iPhone X. As iPhone demand settled in after these launches, and Samsung brought its new Galaxy S9 and S9+ to market, shares reverse, returning to the levels seen in recent quarters. Samsung improved its share over the March 2017 quarter, and over the December 2017 quarter. Last year at this time, Samsung lost share relative to the December 2016 quarter.

In the past five quarters, Samsung, LG, and Motorola all increased loyalty rates, while Apple maintained its loyalty rate (Chart 2).

 Chart 2: Brand Loyalty (% of phone activators remaining with brand)

Chart 2: Brand Loyalty (% of phone activators remaining with brand)

We see increasing brand loyalty, following the long-term gains in operating system loyalty. Apple customers have historically been very loyal, with 80-90% or more of customers upgrading from one iPhone to another. Now we see increasing loyalty with other brands as well. Samsung has seen loyalty rates over 70% for the last year, and LG and Motorola added several percentage points to their respective loyalty rates. For a long time, Android owners remained loyal to Android. Yet, they often chose to switch brands, which they could do without learning a new operating system. As fewer unique features are added to flagship phones, and brands have developed personalities with consistent user interfaces, consumers have fewer reasons to change brands, and more reasons not to when they upgrade phones.

CIRP bases its findings on a survey of 500 US subjects that activated a new or used phone in the January-March 2018 period. For additional information, please contact CIRP.