Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, February 23, 2020
Samsung has a strong number-two market position in the US, especially with smartphones, and has a distinctive customer profile from market leader Apple. This is based on our MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey and prior waves.
Samsung for the not-so-young
Samsung’s penetration is strongest among age 35-54, mostly spanning Generation X. One third or more of online adults this age are using at least one Samsung connected device: a phone, tablet, or PC. Of these devices, Samsung’s smartphones are in the most solid position. More than one in four online Americans use a Samsung smartphone, with Samsung’s highest penetration by age group at 28% of online Americans age 45 to 54.
The market penetration of Samsung’s tablets and PCs is among less than one in 10 Americans.
Samsung missing the young Americans
Samsung’s smartphones have yet to attract or dominate the most youthful American adults, which is Apple’s strongest suit. 39% of Apple’s iPhones are in American adults age 18 to 34, only 30% of Samsung’s are. Samsung is below the total national average in this respect, too, which is 35%.
Samsung for the not-so-busy
Samsung’s market penetration for its smartphones has declined among Americans using the greatest number of connected devices. Between 2018 and 2019, Samsung’s share dropped by 3 or more percentage points among users with 2, 3, 4, or 6 connected devices (phones, PCs, tablets, or game consoles). The only segment where Samsung gained is among those few Americans who only use one connected device.
Samsung’s strong, yet sagging share
Samsung has lost ground between 2017 and 2019, with its overall market penetration dropping or staying flat for its phones, tablets, and PCs. In the US, Samsung’s overall penetration has shrunk from 30% in 2019 and 34% in 2018 to 33% in 2017. The largest decline was in Samsung’s tablet penetration, which dropped nearly in half, from 11% in 2018 to 6% in 2019. This is due in part to Apple’s dominant market position with iPads. It is also a general retrenchment for tablets when consumers have reduced the breadth of their tech device collection.
Samsung’s overall decline has been similar in China. In Germany, however, Samsung has effectively maintained its leading position.
Not only handsets
Smartphone subscribers choose more than a handset brand, also selecting their carrier. Verizon currently has the largest number of American subscribers, with 30% of online adults using Verizon’s service with any smartphone brand. Verizon is followed by AT&T with 24%, T-Mobile with 13%, and Sprint with 8%. Among all these major US carriers, Apple’s iPhones dominate among their subscribers. Samsung is in a strong number-two position. Samsung’s share is three-fourths of Apple’s share with T-Mobile, one-half of Apple’s share on Verizon and Sprint, and one-third on AT&T.
As the deployment of 5G makes its shaky rollout across the US, handset makers and carriers alike will need to tread lightly and deliberately. Those emphasizing 5G connections for subscribers without ample supporting coverage will lead to disappointment. On the other hand, those not incorporating 5G into their handsets run the customers’ risk of churning to other brands or carriers.
Samsung’s recent (February 2020) release of S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra smartphones emphasized their cameras and ability to capture and share high-resolution images and videos. However, users without a higher-speed connection or an unlimited data plan are likely to have difficulty fully enjoying these capabilities. These phones include a MicroSD card slot, which will help address this issue to some degree.
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