Apple maintained its position as the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipments in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to IDC. However, iPhone shipments declined 14.9% year-on-year.
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Global smartphone shipments plunged in the fourth quarter of 2022 — usually a big holiday shopping period — thanks to macroeconomic weakness and soft consumer demand, according to market research firm IDC.
Electronics firms shipped 300.3 million smartphones in the October to December quarter, an 18.3% year-over-year fall, IDC said in a report published late Wednesday. The drop marks the largest-ever decline in a single quarter.
A total of 1.21 billion smartphones were shipped in 2022, which represents the lowest annual shipment total since 2013 “due to significantly dampened consumer demand, inflation, and economic uncertainties,” IDC said.
“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 at IDC.
Shipments represent the devices that companies like Apple and Samsung send to retailers and mobile carriers. They do not equal sales but they do give an indication of demand.
IDC said that the “tough close to the year puts the 2.8% recovery expected for 2023 in serious jeopardy with heavy downward risk to the forecast.”
Apple maintained its position as the number one smartphone maker in the world. The U.S. tech giant shipped 72.3 million iPhones in the fourth quarter, down 14.9% year on year, IDC said. Apple had a 24.1% market share. The decline came although Apple launched its latest models — the iPhone 14 series — ahead of the crucial holiday quarter.
Apple faced a number of supply chain issues in the December quarter after the world’s biggest iPhone manufacturing plant in Zhengzhou, China, was hit with a Covid outbreak and worker protests.
Samsung, the second-largest smartphone player, saw shipments decline 15.6% year on year to 58.2 million units. Samsung did not release a brand new flagship smartphone for the fourth quarter but is holding an event on Feb. 1 at which it is likely to show off its new device.
Chinese electronics maker Xiaomi, which came in third, shipped 33.2 million units in the fourth quarter of the year, down 26.3% year on year. That was the biggest decline among the top five smartphone players, which also include Chinese smartphone makers Oppo and Vivo.
“With 2022 declining more than 11% for the year, 2023 is set up to be a year of caution as vendors will rethink their portfolio of devices while channels will think twice before taking on excess inventory,” said Anthony Scarsella, research director at IDC.