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Customers dumping Samsung phones in wake of Apple suit

Prices of used kit plummet on sudden oversupply

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Apple CEO Tim Cook might be pleased with the verdict in his company's recent patent legislation against Samsung, but Samsung customers are definitely not, according to the market watchers at mobile phone trade-in firm Gazelle.

"Consumers seem to be jumping ship," Anthony Scarsella, Gazelle's "chief gadget officer," told MarketWatch. "We expect this trend to continue, especially with this latest verdict."

Scarsella says his company, which buys used mobile phones from consumers, has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of customers looking to unload Samsung kit since Monday alone. The sudden upsurge in supply has led Gazelle to drop the prices it pays for Samsung mobiles by 10 per cent.

That shift might seem almost paradoxical at first blush. Now that Apple has requested injunctions barring US sales of eight of the phones named in its lawsuit, you might think customers would be rushing to buy up the remaining stock of Samsung devices while they're still on shelves, not unloading the ones they already have.

Who knows? Banned Samsung mobiles could even develop a certain cachet among some US consumers, like Cuban cigars.

Then again, these are Android phones. Mobile makers aren't known for keeping their older phones up to date with the latest Android OS as it stands, and customers might fear that Samsung will be even less likely to issue updates for models that it isn't allowed to sell anymore.

Although Apple's injunctions – if they are approved by the court – will only affect US sales, the US is by far the largest market for smartphones. Only China even comes close, and while Samsung technically leads that market, it does so with only a 19 per cent share, compared to Apple's 30 per cent share in the US.

Luckily for Samsung, Judge Lucy Koh has put off ruling on Apple's injunctions until December 6, so customers still have plenty of time to grab its product from US retailers. If she does approve Apple's request, however, it's easy to see Samsung dropping support for models that no longer bring in any US revenue.

Still, pennywise consumers who don't mind using an older Android version might be wise to keep an eye on reseller sites, which might soon have an abundant supply of used Samsung kit available. As of this writing, an eBay search for "Samsung Galaxy S II" – the model Apple most wants banned – yields 1,521 results. ®

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