According to a new NPD Group report, Apple maintained its top position in the US smartphone market with a 45 percent unit share in 2013. Overall, the US consumer smartphone market grew 21 percent as more than 121 million smartphones were sold in 2013. Sales results weakened during the fourth quarter as unit growth slowed to just 10 percent year over year.
Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD noted in his report that "In general, 2013 was a year of smartphone market stability for the US. Overall industry growth was similar to that of 2012, and while the major hardware brands saw their shares increase marginally, the space between Apple and Samsung and the rest of the industry expanded once again."
The report noted that sales among consumers making less than $30,000 per year grew at double the industry rate in 2013 and accounted for 31 percent of all smartphone sales, the largest share of any income demographics, up from 21 percent in 2011.
The uptick in sales amongst consumers making less than $30K was starkly contrasted by those earning more than $100K. The report notes that sales in this group dramatically slowed in 2013 to just 4 percent falling from 31 percent in 2011.
One-third of iPhone buyers were among the more affluent consumers, where Apple accounted for 65 percent of the sales. However, the share of iPhone volume among these consumers fell from 44 percent in 2011 to 33 percent in 2013.
Interestingly, Apple's iPhone, which is perceived in the market as a premium phone for high-end consumers or the affluent, really did stunningly well with consumers who earned under $30K. Apple's iPhone sales grew 64 percent among lower income customers.
The largest income demographic for Samsung was the under $30,000 consumer, which accounted for 35 percent of all Samsung sales, double the percentage of sales that went to the most affluent customers.
Baker further noted that "With the fastest growing segments of the industry in the lowest income demographics, both Apple and Samsung face challenges in 2014. For Samsung, this demographic is likely to be the most competitive segment of the market in 2014 and they have a very high dependency on sales here." On the other hand, "Apple has the opposite problem of gaining share in the fast growing entry-level market while still maintaining its position as the dominant supplier to affluent consumers."
One of the interesting facts found in NPD's report was that the majority of growth in 2013 actually came from prepaid devices which grew a whopping 68 percent and accounted for 29 percent of the smartphone market, up from 14 percent in 2011. It's a market that Apple currently doesn't participate in.
One last note, NPD's Mobile Phone Track reports on the activities of US consumers, age 18 and older, who purchased a mobile phone or smartphone. NPD does not track corporate/enterprise mobile phone purchases.