Smartphone sales in the third quarter surged 31 percent in the United States from the second quarter to the third, as three different iPhones topped the individual phone charts. That’s according to numbers released this week by research firm Counterpoint Research.
The rebound was attributed to the gradual lifting of lockdowns from the second quarter to the third, although the sales numbers are still lower than they were in the third quarter of 2019. However, that may have to do with new iPhones being released in the third quarter in 2019 but not 2020.
The top seller in the quarter was the iPhone 11, which was released in 2019, and was Counterpoint’s top smartphone for the fourth consecutive quarter. It was followed by the iPhone SE and iPhone Pro Max.
“The third quarter saw a good rebound in sales due to a few key OEMs outperforming the market despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Apple and Samsung both registered YoY growth in an otherwise declining market. Among operators, T-Mobile had an outstanding quarter, beating expectations for net additions. AT&T and Verizon also registered positive net-addition growth,” Jeff Fieldhack, Counterpoint’s research director, said in the release of the data.
“Over the last months, states have begun easing restrictions, including allowing longer store hours and bigger occupancy numbers,” Fieldhack added. “This has enabled more carrier and national retail stores to reopen. But since store traffic is still down compared to last year, all major channels are also improving their online ordering and support systems. We believe that more than 20% of all sales are now coming from online orders. For the upcoming holiday season and iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini launch, we expect this percentage to eclipse 40%.”
Another firm, Strategy Analytics, reported that Samsung outsold Apple in smartphones in the United States in the third quarter for the first time since early 2017, although that was attributed mostly to Apple not releasing iPhones until after the third quarter was over. Counterpoint did not rank the sales numbers by brand.
“Apple has done a nice job maintaining momentum, but its sales slowed down in September as postpaid iOS consumers were awaiting either new 5G devices or cost-eroded iPhones,” Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne said in the release. “The iPhone 12 launches in October and November will likely help Apple maintain this positive growth in Q4 as carriers are heavily promoting both port-in and upgrade deals.”
Counterpoint said earlier this year that, due mostly to the effects of the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, smartphone sales dropped 21 percent globally in the first quarter compared to the year before. Most individual manufacturers posted double digit losses in that quarter, although Apple and Samsung fell by less than Google, Motorola and LG.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.