In a new report, analyst Jeff Johnson of the boutique firm Arthur Wood Research cited supply-chain sources who say preorders for Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 smartphone are down 50% over the Galaxy S8, which was released at the same time last year. Samsung unveiled the S9 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. (See our Harry McCracken’s review here.)
Johnson writes that phone buyers are “upgrading at a much slower pace as features are falling on deaf ears.” This is a frightening prospect for companies like Samsung Electronics that rely on sales of phones and phone components for much of their revenue.
One important caveat to the report: Samsung doesn’t sell phones to consumers, says Above Avalon analyst Neil Cybart, but rather sells them to carriers. So Johnson’s report probably reflects carriers’ reluctance to lay in a lot of S9 inventory in the face of sobering reports of softening phone demand during Q1 2018.
“Smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate,” Johnson writes. This same general phenomenon is the likely cause of disappointing iPhone X sales after an initial surge of purchasing immediately following that phone’s launch. And Apple is, arguably, even more exposed to a softening smartphone market than Samsung is.
This all might be good news for consumers. Johnson says it may soon cause wireless carriers to introduce “more aggressive promotions” to move inventory.