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Worldwide SmartPhone Shipments In Q4 Fall, Despite Overall Growth In 2021

Worldwide smartphone shipments have fallen in the fourth quarter of 2021 according to the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report.

According to preliminary data smartphone vendors shipped a total of 362.4 million phones during the holiday quarter (4Q21), which was down 3.2% year over year but slightly better than IDC’s forecast.

On an annual basis, the market grew 5.7% in 2021 with 1.35 billion smartphones shipped.

One Company that saw a major fall in sales was Oppo whose share in Q4 slipped by over 20% compared to the same quarter in 2020.

“There’s no question the second half of 2021 failed to meet expectations with volumes declining 4.5% compared to the second half of 2020,” said Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

“As we mentioned last quarter, the supply chain and component shortages started to have meaningful impact on the smartphone market as we entered the second half of the year, and this continues to be the case as we’ve now entered 2022”.

He added “We expect to see supply and logistical challenges continue through the first half of this year, but we currently believe we’ll return to growth in the second quarter and second half of 2022. There is no question that demand is still strong in many markets, and to some extent we are seeing increasing consumer interest in 5G and new form factors like foldables.”

A woman passes by an advertisement of Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy 5G Note10+ smartphone at a subway station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020. Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday its operating profit for the last quarter fell 33.7% from a year earlier but it predicted earnings will improve in 2020, driven by a gradually stabilizing computer chip market and increasing 5G smartphone sales. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Despite a slight year-over-year decline in shipments, Apple had an impressive holiday quarter, once again jumping above Samsung into the top spot.

Its strength in supply chain was on display more than ever in 4Q21. iPhone 13 SKUs were an impressive portion of volumes in the holiday quarter driving strong growth in overall iPhone average selling prices.

Samsung who released a new range of foldable devices followed in second spot.

Both Samsung and Apple were the only vendors out of the top 5 that grew shipments year over year in 4Q21.

Chinese brand Xiaomi had the highest annual growth reaching almost 30%, Samsung had the lowest, just 6.0% growth in 2021.

This contrast clearly illustrates which vendor benefitted the most from the massive decline of Huawei this year claims IDC.

Apple delivered annual growth of 15.9% in 2021 due to their relationship with the Chinese Communist party in China where their share grew 40% in 2021.

“The fact that 2021 would have come in drastically higher if it were not for the supply constraints adds even more positivity to the healthy 5.7% growth, we saw for 2021,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

“To me it gives a message that there is significant pent-up demand in almost all regions. Even in China, where there are some challenges around weakening consumer demand, the market performed much better in the fourth quarter than expected, 5% better to be exact, albeit still a year-over-year decline. With channel inventory low in almost all regions and as supply constraints ease up towards the middle of the year, IDC expects this pent-up demand to drive the market toward healthy growth in 2022.”


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