Analyst: Samsung sold 6M Galaxy S6, S6 Edge units through end of April

Samsung Electronics' sales of its Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge flagship smartphones are off to a solid start and performing better than last year's Galaxy S5 model, according to a report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research.

According to Counterpoint, its channel surveys show that Samsung sold a total of 6 million combined S6 and S6 Edge units by the end of April after the devices made their worldwide debut on April 10. The firm found that the Galaxy S6 series is mostly cannibalizing other Android phones, including Samsung's other flagship models.

Samsung is banking on strong S6 sales to revive its smartphone business, which saw sales and profits dip last year. The research firm thinks the Galaxy S6 series is on its way to achieving 50 million unit sales by the end of this year, which would be in line with analysts' expectations of between 45 million and 60 million units, The Wall Street Journal noted.

"We believe this is about 60% of the units Samsung has shipped out of its factories. So 40% remain as inventory in the distribution channels which is not unusual for a new product in its first stages," the research firm said in a report.

The standard Galaxy S6 sold slightly more units than the curved-screen S6 Edge, but the S6 Edge showed much higher initial interest, the firm said. Counterpoint added that the Galaxy S6 series represented 21 percent of Samsung's total smartphone sales during April compared to the 16 percent of smartphone sales the Galaxy S5 represented in April 2014.

Counterpoint said sales of the S6 series have managed to exceed the sales of the Galaxy S5 despite the fact that only 20 countries were included in the initial rollout of the Galaxy S6 compared to the 125 countries in which the Galaxy S5 launched last year.

Last year, according to WSJ, which cited an unnamed source familiar with the matter, Samsung sold just 12 million units of the Galaxy S5 in the three months after its April launch, compared with about 16 million units for the Galaxy S4.

Critics and reviewers had panned the S5 as having a plastic feel and not offering much in the way of improvements from the S4. This year, Samsung redesigned its flagship phones, giving them glass backs and metal edges, and upgrading the processor, battery life and camera while removing some cluttered software.

"Considering that fewer countries were in the initial product release, it has had a slower roll-out and lower marketing budget than the Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S6 series can be considered to be performing better than the Galaxy S5," Counterpoint analyst Tom Kang said in a statement.

Counterpoint analyst Neil Shah said in a statement that Samsung could have sold more Galaxy S6 Edge units if there weren't supply issues, which Samsung flagged in April, but said the S6 Edge "is on track to become more popular than the standard version as Samsung's marketing engine kicks-in at full-speed."

"The curved glass is certainly going to be a challenge for production as it is the first of its kind and navigating unchartered waters, so managing the supply with shifts in demand between the two models will be the key to maintaining momentum," Shah added.

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were the top-selling smartphone models worldwide in April, according to Counterpoint, signs that Apple is showing continued momentum after the phones' debut last fall. "The Samsung Galaxy S6 series has a chance to become the top selling smartphone overtaking Apple's iPhone 6 series, if production issues are solved," Counterpoint analyst Peter Richardson said in a statement. "However the window of opportunity to do so is short as consumers don't have much patience in a market with many alternatives."

Counterpoint says its monthly tracker of smartphone market share data is based on sell-through (channel sales) surveyed at major mass retailers, distributors across different markets (39 countries), and is cross-referenced with demand-side surveys.

For more:
- see this Counterpoint post
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this CNET article

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