Global Smartphone Industry Suffers Worst Year Since 2013

2022 was the worst year for the global smartphone market since 2013, with shipments dropping 11.3% in the year to 1.21 billion units and 18.3% in the fourth quarter alone, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

While Samsung led global smartphone shipments for 2022, Apple came in second place with 226.4 million iPhones sold and suffered the lowest year-over-year decline of any smartphone maker at just 4.0%. Chinese smartphone maker vivo was most affected, with its sales plunging a whopping 22.8%.

The fourth quarter proved especially perilous for the smartphone industry, with total shipments dropping an unprecedented 18.3%. This marks the largest-ever decline in smartphone sales in a single quarter.

“We have never seen shipments in the holiday quarter come in lower than the previous quarter. However, weakened demand and high inventory caused vendors to cut back drastically on shipments,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team.

Apple was again least affected, and even led global shipments in the fourth quarter with a 24.1% market share. That said, iPhone sales plunged 14.9% year-over-year during the holiday quarter to just 72.3 million units.

Apple’s shipments in the fourth quarter, typically the biggest sales period for the iPhone, were pushed down not only by waning consumer demand but also by production disruptions at the world’s largest iPhone factory, operated by Foxconn in Zhengzhou, China.

“Even Apple, which thus far was seemingly immune, suffered a setback in its supply chain with unforeseen lockdowns at its key factories in China. What this holiday quarter tells us is that rising inflation and growing macro concerns continue to stunt consumer spending even more than expected and push out any possible recovery to the very end of 2023,” Popal added.

The worker unrest and resulting supply slowdown from the Foxconn factory reportedly cost Apple several million iPhone 14 Pro units in the all-important holiday quarter.

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