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Smartphone Shipments See Largest Ever Decline, Plunging to a Low Not Seen Since 2013.

Global smartphone shipments fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2022, due to weak economic conditions and soft consumer demand, according to market research firm IDC.‍

January 26, 2023
5 minutes
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Global smartphone shipments fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 2022, due to weak economic conditions and soft consumer demand, according to market research firm IDC.

According to a report from IDC, electronics firms shipped 300.3 million smartphones in the October to December quarter, a year-over-year decline of 18.3%. This marks the largest-ever decline in a single quarter.

IDC has predicted that the total number of smartphones shipped in 2022 will be 1.21 billion, which is the lowest annual total since 2013. The main reasons for this decrease are dampened consumer demand, inflation, and economic uncertainties.

Nabila Popal, research director at IDC, said that vendors have cut back on shipments drastically due to weakened demand and high inventory. She added that this is the first time they have seen shipments in the holiday quarter come in lower than the previous quarter.

Shipments are devices that companies like Apple and Samsung send to retailers and mobile carriers. They don't necessarily reflect sales, but they can give an indication of demand.

IDC has warned that the recent economic downturn could jeopardize the recovery that was expected for 2023. They say that there is a significant risk that the forecast could be revised downward.

Apple remained the top smartphone maker in the world in the fourth quarter, despite a year-over-year decline in shipments. According to IDC, the company shipped 72.3 million iPhones during the quarter, for a market share of 24.1%. Although Apple launched its latest iPhone models before the holiday quarter, it was not enough to offset the overall decline in shipments.

Apple faced a number of supply chain issues in the December quarter after one of its biggest iPhone manufacturing plants in Zhengzhou, China, was hit with a Covid outbreak and worker protests.

Samsung's smartphone shipments declined 15.6% year-on-year to 58.2 million units in the fourth quarter. The company did not release a new flagship smartphone during the quarter, but is holding an event on Feb. 1 at which it is likely to show off its new device.

Xiaomi, the Chinese electronics maker, shipped 33.2 million units in the fourth quarter of the year, down 26.3% from the previous year. This was the biggest decline among the top five smartphone players, which also include Chinese smartphone makers Oppo and Vivo.

According to Anthony Scarsella, research director at IDC, 2023 is set to be a year of caution as vendors will rethink their portfolio of devices while channels will think twice before taking on excess inventory. This is due to the decline in 2022, which is set to be more than 11%.

Eric Ng
Eric Ng
John Liu
Editorial Board
Bryan Curtis
Adan Harris
Managing Editor
Cathy Hills
Associate Editor

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