At the Galaxy S9 event, it appeared that Samsung had taken inspiration from Apple with its AR Emoji, which are pretty similar to the iPhone X’s Animoji. It now seems that the S9 is mimicking Apple’s flagship in another area: lower than expected pre-orders.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, pre-orders for the Galaxy S9 are “about the same or slightly lower” than those for the Galaxy S8.
"We believe that the preorders for the Galaxy S9 are similar to that of the Galaxy S8," a Samsung official said.
Even if the report is accurate, it still doesn’t mean the phone is a failure. But the handsets were expected to outperform their S8 predecessors, which had the highest number of pre-orders—550,000 units in two days—since Samsung started the program in 2013.
Samsung claims the figures could be lower for the S9s because the company started receiving pre-orders for the phones just two days after their unveiling in Barcelona; with the S8/S8+, there was an eight-day gap. However, one employee from a local mobile carrier places the blame on the phones' lack of upgrades compared to last year’s model.
"Customers may be finding the Galaxy S9 not much different from other smartphones," they said. "The popularity and customers' interest are not as high compared to the previous model."
Analyst Jeff Johnston from boutique firm Arthur Wood Research (via Barron’s) also believes that the S9/S9+ are disappointing Samsung. He writes that they are “significantly underperforming pre-launch expectations of 10% to 15% growth,” and are “down ~50% over GS8.”
Samsung hasn’t given out any official figures and it still expects the S9 to sell more than the S8—pre-orders could rise quickly in the run-up to the handsets’ March 16 launch date. But lessening interest appears to be affecting the entire smartphone market, which saw its first YoY sales decline in Q4.
With incremental improvements over previous models and ever-increasing prices, fewer people are rushing out to upgrade to the latest models. Hopefully, the industry will take heed and come up with more innovative designs and cheaper handsets with killer features.