2022 iPhone shipments fell 14.9% in holiday quarter, but all other brands fared worse

According to the latest data from IDC, 2022 iPhone shipments fell 14.9% year-over-year in the holiday quarter and 4% for the calendar year.

However, while this may not sound like good news, Apple outperformed other brands both in the quarter and for the full year…

The last quarter of last year saw the biggest drop in smartphone shipments in a single quarter ever, and the lowest total for the year since 2013, market intelligence firm IDC said.

Global smartphone shipments fell 18.3% year-on-year to 300.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2022 (4Q22), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. The decline was the largest ever in a single quarter and led to a sharp 11.3% year-over-year decline. 2022 ended with shipments of 1.21 billion units, the lowest annual supply total since 2013 due to a significant decline in consumer demand, inflation and economic uncertainties.

Indeed, IDC said shipments in the holiday quarter were actually lower than shipments in the third quarter — the first time this has happened.

“We have never seen deliveries in a festive quarter lower than the previous quarter. However, subdued demand and high inventories have caused suppliers to sharply reduce shipments,” said Nabila Popal, research director of IDC’s Worldwide Tracker team.

“Strong sales and promotions during the quarter contributed to depleting available inventory rather than driving shipment growth. Suppliers are becoming increasingly cautious in shipping and scheduling as they focus on profitability.

Even Apple, which has been immune until now, has suffered supply chain failures with unplanned shutdowns at its main factories in China. What this festive quarter tells us is that rising inflation and rising macroeconomic concerns continue to dampen consumer spending more than expected.

iPhone shipments fell 14.9% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, but all other brands saw their shipments decline further. 15.6% from Samsung, 26.3% from Xiaomi. The overall decrease across all brands is 18.3%.

It’s a similar story when it comes to the year as a whole. iPhone shipments fell by 4% in 2022, but once again all other brands saw larger declines – from Samsung’s 4.1% to Vivo’s 22.8%. The decrease for all smartphone brands was 11.3%.

Until now, analysts had expected 2023 to be a recovery year, with smartphone shipments growing by 2.8%, but IDC says that looks uncertain for three reasons.

First, consumer spending remains cautious. With high inflation and widespread layoffs, many are choosing to be careful with their money, and luxury spending isn’t high on most people’s lists right now.

Second, smartphone manufacturers are equally cautious, either keeping their lineups static or actually reducing the number of models offered. Apple tends to plan the iPhone out for several years, so it’s likely to stick with the Plus model this year, even though all signs point to very weak demand. But the 2024 lineup may only have three flagship iPhone models.

Third, retailers reduce order sizes to avoid the risk of ending up with unsold inventory.

IDC says we make if we see any smartphone growth this year, it’s likely to be driven primarily by discounts and offers rather than organic growth.

Photo: RH Lee/Unsplash

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