Apple crushed Samsung in the U.S. over the holidays

Apple Samsung Holiday Smartphone Sales

Although Samsung rules most of the world in terms of total smartphone sales, here in the United States it’s still having a tough time consistently beating Apple. Counterpoint Research passes along its latest report showing that Apple’s iPhone surged past Samsung’s smartphones in terms of market share in the U.S. over the holiday season, growing from 31% to 43% over the span of just a month. Samsung, meanwhile, saw its market share dip from 34% to 30% over the same period as sales of its popular Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 devices were overrun by sales of the iPhone 5s among holiday shoppers.

Counterpoint research director Neil Shah credits Apple’s more aggressive sales strategy that included holiday gift cards at Apple stores as a key driver for iPhone adoption this past December.

“What we saw was a little bit surprising but essentially ‘calculated aggression’ from Apple to ward off competition by offering so many discounts and giveaways for just a three month old portfolio, a very hard deal to resist for consumers,” he says. “Effective promotions also helped Apple correct iPhone 5c inventory, bringing it to a manageable level compared to the start of the quarter.”

Counterpoint’s press release follows below.

Apple Floors the Competition in the US during December 2013

Hong Kong, Seoul, Mumbai and London – January 27, 2014 — According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Monthly Market Pulse December report, Apple’s smartphone share in the US soared during December, a key month in the holiday season quarter. Samsung held the top spot in November boosted by healthy uptake of its new Galaxy Note 3 but Apple topped the sales charts in the crucial December month.

Apple benefitted from the late November Black Friday deals as numerous retailers sold the iPhones at a discount and the momentum continued until the Christmas season. For example, Black Friday gift cards were given out along with iPhone purchases and in addition some retailers like BestBuy, Walmart, Fry’s shaved off the price for iPhone 5s and 5c models by US$30 to as much as US$85. Sprint also had an aggressive offering for the iPhone 5c, lowering the price tag by US$100 for certain customers.

The timely marketing promotions for its refreshed iPhone portfolio helped Apple boost sales during December as the Cupertino vendor topped the market with an impressive 43% market share during the month, its highest point in 2013. As a result, Apple & Samsung combined captured almost three-fourths of the US smartphone sales during the December month.

Commenting on Apple’s performance, Neil Shah, Research Director at Counterpoint Research explains, “Without any more constraints from the supply chain, aggressive promotions, support from the retail and operator channels and unprecedented consumer demand across US, iPhone 5s sales jumped more than 25% sequentially. Effective promotions also helped Apple correct iPhone 5c inventory, bringing it to a manageable level compared to the start of the quarter.”

Mr. Shah, further added, “What we saw was a little bit surprising but essentially “calculated aggression” from Apple to ward off competition by offering so many discounts and giveaways for just a three month old portfolio, a very hard deal to resist for consumers.”

Ludolf Ebner, Partner at Counterpoint Research, notes, “Apple’s year-end holiday quarter promotions were not just confined to the US but were also seen across many developed markets including Europe, where sales also jumped sequentially during December.” Mr. Ebner, further comments, “Healthy supply-demand in Q4 2013 has helped Apple lower the channel inventory leaving sufficient room to control the channel sales in 2014; unlike the situation in early January 2013 when the channel inventory had almost doubled slowing down Apple’s sales growth during the Jan-Mar period of 2013 in USA.”

Meanwhile, the third largest smartphone vendor in US, LG, saw its share slip to 10% in December after a healthy uptick in October & November. It was however better off than other brands like Nokia or HTC. After a good traction for its low-cost ‘Moto’ portfolio in October, November, Motorola, saw its sales dipping a bit in December, partly due to the limited availability of Moto G stocks across the channels during the month.

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