In brief: One company's loss is another's gain. It seems that's especially true in the US mobile industry, where Motorola has taken advantage of LG's demise to become the third-largest smartphone maker in the country, taking a 10% market share.

According to Counterpoint Research's Market Pulse Service, Lenovo-owned Motorola was the number three smartphone firm in the US last year. In 2008, back when feature phones were the dominant variant, Motorola was the largest handset (smartphones and feature phones combined) OEM in the US, but 2021 marked the first time it has entered the top-three US smartphone market.

One of the main reasons behind Motorola's sales growing 131% last year was the long-predicted exit of LG from the phone business. The last handset rolled off the Korean firm's production line in June, and we started seeing OnePlus, Nokia, and Motorola filling the void LG left behind.

Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said Motorola has all the key characteristics major carriers desire, including "a full portfolio, ability to ramp volumes, and low return rates."

Illustrating just how popular its mid- to low-range phones are, Motorola was the number two smartphone company in the $400 and lower segment in the United States.

"Motorola's sub-$300 portfolio – Moto G Stylus, Moto G Power and Moto G Pure – has driven its success in the US," Fieldhack added. "Thanks to its reliability, Motorola has been a key free 'switch' device, a device carriers use to move subscribers from networks that are being shut off or as a device MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) use when changing network partners."

Motorola continued its US success in the first quarter of this year; Samsung, which has a 22% market share, could soon start feeling its competitor breathing down its neck. Apple remains the dominant force in the US market by holding a massive 58% share at the end last year. But that number might not be as high in 2022 if reports of Cupertino slashing iPhone SE production in the face of low demand are accurate.

Masthead image credit: Jonas Leupe