Motorola Still Has Fight Left as It Nabs No. 3 Spot in the US Market

The smartphone market, it turns out, may still surprise you – to a degree. These days, you can almost certainly figure out which two corporations are in top and second place in the US market. You’d be forgiven for performing a double-take if you heard that Motorola had managed to hold on to third place, according to fresh Counterpoint Research numbers. The brand hasn’t had a particularly pleasant decade or two. After becoming a strong brand after the millenium, things have been tough for the company in the post-iPhone era. 

Motorola split in two after suffering enormous losses, selling its Mobility division to Google in 2011. Because of Google’s track record with hardware, the phone company changed hands again three years later. Lenovo has proven to be a far more reliable home for the former brand. Its success can be ascribed in part to its decision to avoid the high-end of the market, which is dominated by the aforementioned companies. Brazil and India, in particular, have emerged as important markets for the firm. The United States has also remained a stronghold, with a thinning out of the herd in the mid- and budget tiers creating a void that the corporation has been eager to fill.

Motorola grew by a stunning 131 percent year over year in 2021, according to Counterpoint data. This places the company second in the United States for cellphones under $400 and third overall. Moto’s sub-$300 phones, in particular, have gained traction, with the company capturing roughly 10% of the total market. It’s not quite back to where it was in 2008, but it’s the company’s greatest performance since smartphones took over the phone market. 

Pre-paid providers such as Metro, Cricket, and Boost have played a significant role, accounting for roughly 28% of the market. The names that aren’t on this list, however, are the most essential. The industry had had a strange few years, and Lenovo was plainly well positioned to take advantage. Huawei is virtually a non-factor now that it has been included to the US entity list. HTC has essentially gone silent into that good night after handing off a big piece of its R&D to Google (them again? ), opting instead to focus on virtual reality (the jury is still out on that move). LG, on the other hand, is the greatest absentee.

The South Korean hardware company completely departed the smartphone industry in April of last year. “Going forward, LG will continue to build on its mobile experience and develop mobility-related technologies like 6G to assist boost competitiveness in other fields.” LG announced at the time that “core technologies established over the course of the company’s two decades in the mobile market will be kept and used to existing and future devices.” The move looks to have created a market void that is ideally Motorola-shaped. The success of the smartphone company has also been aided by its status as a legacy brand. That is to say, while it has faded from public consciousness, it still has enough goodwill from its golden days to speed up purchasing decisions.

If you’re on a tight budget and need a $300 phone, chances are you’ll pick with a name you recognize, even if it’s from the Razr heydays of a couple of decades ago. What’s more, you know what? You wouldn’t be far off the mark. The company has a long history of producing high-quality cheap phones. So, yes, it’s a comeback. I’m not going to stop you.