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Global smartphone sales come tumbling down as reality bites

Inflation and energy prices force consumers to prioritize household bills over shiny electronic devices

The bad news juggernaut just keeps on rolling for devices maker, with global smartphone shipments for calendar Q3 falling to their lowest quarterly rate in eight years.

According to preliminary data collated by Canalys, sales into the channel – retailers and distributors – plunged by 9 per cent year-on-year to an estimated 296.21 million handsets.

The relatively gloomy economic forecasts has caused consumers to postpone electronics hardware and instead funnel household spending on essential goods and services.

“The smartphone market is highly reactive to consumer demand and vendors are adjusting quickly to the harsh business conditions,” said Amber Liu, analyst at the number cruncher.

“For most vendors, the priority is to reduce the risk of inventory building up given deteriorating demand. Vendors had significant stockpiles going into July, but sell-through gradually improved from September owing to aggressive discounting and promotions.”

She added: “The pricing strategy of new products is cautiously crafted, even for Apple, to avoid significant pushback from consumers who now tend to be very sensitive to any price hike.”

Demand isn’t expected to improve any time soon with sluggishness forecast until the second half of next year. As such smartphone brands are working with their distributors and resellers on a “prudent production forecast,” said Canalys.

So shoppers can expect some heavy promotions during the winter holidays? Sanyam Chaurasia, another market watcher at Canalys, said it expects plenty of activity.

“Going into the sales season, consumers who have been delaying purchases will expect steep discounts and bundling promotions as well as significant price reductions on older generation devices.”

The preliminary data includes market share figures for each of the top five smartphone vendors but not actual shipment numbers, indicating only Apple posted year-on-year growth in Q3.

According to estimates, Samsung sold 65.16 million phones, down more than 4 percent and giving it a market share of 22 percent. Apple grew 9.2 percent to 53.3 million. Xiaomi shipments were flat and both OPPO and Vivo declined.

Still, the latest showing in the smartphone sector looks relatively glorious compared to the PC market, where shipments volumes slumped by 19.5 percent in the third quarter of 2022, the fastest fall since Gartner began counting the number of boxes sent into the channel. ®

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