Samsung shipped just over 8 million of its newly launched flagship devices, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, in the first four weeks after launch. The launch performance of the S9 series closely matched that of the S8 series in April 2017, but failed to surpass the 9 million achieved by the S7 series in March 2016. However, a much greater percentage of shipments were of the plus model when compared with the S8, largely due to the distinct dual cameras of the S9+ that are lacking on the cheaper S9. Of the 8 million worldwide S9/S9+ shipments, 2.8 million were shipped to the US, and close to 1 million were shipped to its home country of Korea.
“Samsung’s performance is impressive, considering the Galaxy S9 is not a major step up from the S8,” said Canalys Analyst Ben Stanton. “Samsung has made significant improvements to its go-to-market strategy, with wider availability of the S9 in more markets at launch. It has also engineered upgrades by providing an aggressive global device trade-in program, with generous discounts to reduce costs to end users. Its regional teams are being rated on volume, with management eager for the S9 to out-ship the S8. With some regional teams already electing to discount the Galaxy S9, it is clear that as the worldwide market slows, Samsung will sacrifice margin to defend its share.” The S7/S7 Edge remains one of Samsung’s best-selling Galaxy smartphones, with close to 48 million shipped in the launch year. The S8/S8+ shipped just 41 million units in comparison.
While Samsung’s S9 series is yet to have a full quarter of shipments, Samsung’s rival Apple has just had a disappointing quarter for its iPhone X. Canalys estimates that Apple shipped fewer than 14 million iPhone Xs in Q1 2018, down from 29 million in Q4 2017. “Apple’s iPhone X performance in Q1 is a clear indication of the challenges that premium smartphones now face,” said TuanAnh Nguyen, Analyst at Canalys. “The novelty of premium smartphones is wearing off, and features such as 18:9 displays and dual cameras are being commoditized quickly to lower ASPs. While Samsung has tackled the issue of slowing demand for premium smartphones head-on by announcing trade-in programs and partner-driven offers, new smartphones from Huawei and Google’s Pixel smartphones are primed to dent its sales quicker than Samsung can anticipate.”