Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Apple improves U.S. device activations share following iPhone 8, iPhone X launches

Apple enjoyed a bumper quarter in the United States following the launch of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X, according to a consumer research report into device activations, with activations of iPhones in the last quarter of 2017 up compared to both the previous quarter and the same quarter in 2016.

In the fourth quarter of 2017 ending December 31, Apple had the highest share of smartphone activations on carriers in the U.S., the report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners claims achieving a 39 percent share of the market. This is said to be an improvement compared to the September 2017 quarter, where iPhones accounted for only 29 percent of activations across the period.

The higher activations share for the end of 2017 is also higher than for the end of 2016, where Apple acquired 34 percent of activations in the quarter.

By comparison, Android devices accounted for 60 percent of U.S. smartphone activations for the December quarter of 2017, down from the 64 percent recorded for the same quarter in 2016, and a larger decrease from the 71 percent share recorded in the September quarter of 2017.

Operating system share of mobile phone activations

The shift in market share for Apple is credited by CIRP partner and co-founder Josh Lowitz to the company's major launches in the fall. While Android still leads, the launch of the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X models, without similar new Android phones, allowed Apple to increase its share of activations in the quarter, relative last quarter and to the year-ago quarter.

Broken down into brands, Apple also came out on top in the quarter, with its 39 percent share topping Samsung's 32 percent and LG's 13 percent shares. Other brands, including Motorola and HTC, made up the remaining activations in the period, totaling approximately 15 percent.

In the first full quarter after the launch of its three new models, Apple grew its share relative to Android brands, adds Lowitz. Comparing the change in share from the September quarter to the December quarter in 2016 and 2017, Lowitz notes Apple clearly improved its market position, gaining ten percentage points between quarters in both years.

As (Apple) had a better September quarter in 2017 than in 2016, this resulted in an overall stronger December quarter, Lowitz notes.

Brand share of mobile phone activations
Brand share of mobile phone activations

The report's findings concerning Apple's dominance echoes similar analysis from Yahoo's Flurry Mobile over global activations, released at the end of last month. In that report, Apple is claimed to have the highest number of device activations of any smartphone producer for the week leading up to Christmas, achieving a 44 percent share compared to Samsung's 26 percent.

Notably, while the iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 8 accounted for 31.5 percent of these activations, the highest individual device activations were for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6 with respective shares of 15.1 percent and 14.9 percent. It is likely that price played a major factor, with customers in emerging markets with lower incomes more sensitive to the cost of mobile devices.