Briefly: High inflation and a poor economic outlook for 2023 caused consumers to shift spending away from luxury items like high-end smartphones to more essential purchases like gas and food in 2022. The industry in general experienced declines in the last quarter not seen in 10 years.
Smartphone sellers are licking their wounds after a dismal year of sales. Analysts at Canalys appreciation Global shipments for the fourth quarter of 2022 were down 17 percent compared to 2021. Full-year sales fell to just under 1.2 billion, down 11 percent year-over-year. The worst performance the industry has seen in a decade.
Apple and Samsung fared a little better than the rest, with the Cupertino powerhouse taking 25 percent of the market to the Korean OEM’s 20 percent — both industry gains. Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo took a hit, dropping to 11, 10, and 8 percent of the market share, respectively. Apple’s latest release of the iPhone 14 line stole Samsung’s thunder, at least until the upcoming Galaxy S23.
However, all sellers have had a rough year regardless of their market share gains. The economy is teetering on the brink of recession, and the technology sector, in particular, has experienced a significant contraction, notes Canalys research analyst Runar Bjørhovde.
“Smartphone vendors struggled in a challenging macro environment throughout 2022. Q4 marks the worst annual and Q4 performance in a decade. The channel is very cautious in taking new inventory, which contributes to lower shipments in Q4.”
Manufacturers were able to reduce stocks from high-quality inventories during the holiday season, but overall, “Q4 2022 stands in stark contrast to higher demand in Q4 2021” and easing supply constraints. Even low-to-medium range demand fell sharply in the first three quarters. People in 2022 were more interested in paying their growing bills than upgrading to the latest and greatest.
Canalys expects OEMs to protect market share throughout 2023, prioritizing profitability and cost-cutting. At best, you’d expect marginal growth in the segment, with the prospect of sales remaining flat in the new year.
“Although inflationary pressures will gradually ease, the effects of rising interest rates, economic slowdown and an increasingly faltering labor market will limit the market potential,” said research analyst Lu Xuanqiu. “This will adversely affect saturated markets dominated by mid-to-high-end companies, such as Western Europe and North America.”
Chiu adds that Southeast Asia is the only region that is expected to see significant positive growth, but that won’t happen until the second half of 2023.
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