AT&T sells just 10,000 Moto Z2 Force phones—but Motorola’s U.S. share rises to 5% in Q3

Motorola's Z2 Force smartphone launched this summer through all of the nation's major wireless operators.

Although Lenovo’s Motorola managed to almost double its share in the U.S. smartphone market in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, the company’s products aren’t necessarily catching fire at all of the nation’s wireless operators.

According to sales tracking firm BayStreet Research, Lenovo’s Motorola sold only 10,000 Moto Z2 Force phones through AT&T since launching the device in August. That’s particularly noteworthy because, for months, AT&T offered a free Moto Insta-Share Projector—a $300 device that can connect to the Moto Z2 Force phone and project 70-inch images, such as videos from AT&T’s new DirecTV Now streaming service—to customers who bought the phone. As BayStreet noted, that’s a substantial promotion for both the phone and AT&T’s DirecTV Now service, and AT&T likely expected higher sales than just 10,000 through the month of October.

Carriers typically do not discuss sales figures for specific devices, and a Motorola representative declined to comment on the figures.

“It’s a tough business,” BayStreet analyst Cliff Maldonado said of smartphones. “You have to execute perfectly.”

Verizon for years has been the exclusive U.S. provider of high-end Motorola smartphones; Motorola was the driving provider of Verizon’s initial line of “Droid” branded Android phones. This summer though, Motorola expanded distribution of its high-end phones to all of the nation’s top wireless carriers.

Maldonado said that, based on BayStreet estimates, Verizon was the primary U.S. carrier vendor for Motorola’s Moto Z2 Force phone, selling around 100,000 units of the device from August to the end of October. That’s likely due to Verizon’s longtime support of Motorola products and pent-up demand among Motorola fans in Verizon’s customers base.

Maldonado added that Sprint likely sold around 15,000 units of the phone and T-Mobile sold around 20,000 Moto Z2 Force devices from August to the end of October.

In a report, BayStreet noted that Motorola’s summer launch of the Z2 Force was backed by a $200 million marketing campaign (a figure that Motorola previously has declined to confirm), but that sales likely didn’t meet expectations.

“Motorola Z2 Force is a case study in how high Apple and Samsung have set the bar in the U.S. smartphone market,” the firm wrote.

It’s worth noting though that, at least according to Strategy Analytics, Motorola did increase its share of the U.S. smartphone market over the course of the past 12 months. In a new report issued today, the firm said Motorola grew its shipments in the U.S. market from 1.1 million units in the third quarter of last year to 2.1 million in the third quarter of this year, reaching a 5.2% share of the U.S. smartphone market and putting Motorola into fifth place behind ZTE, LG, Samsung and Apple.

“Motorola’s recovery has been driven by expanded distribution with all top four U.S. carriers, selling popular new models such as Moto Z2 Play,” Ken Hyers, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a release from the firm, noting that this is the first time Motorola has entered the top-five rankings since 2015.

For its part, BayStreet reported that Motorola’s new E4 phone, selling mainly through prepaid channels, has been a success.