Record decline in smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter

According to research firm IDC, the smartphone market suffered its worst ever decline in shipments in the fourth quarter of 2022 due to inflation and the economic downturn.

IDC reported last quarter that smartphone shipments fell 18.3% year-over-year to just 30.3 million units, marking “the largest single-quarter decline ever.”(opens in a new window) on Wednesday.

Shipments declined by double digits for all top smartphone vendors, including Apple, during the quarter. In addition, the smartphone market recorded a downward trend for the sixth consecutive quarter in the fourth quarter.

IDC Q4 figures

Competitive research firm Canalys reported.(opens in a new window) It said it had similar shipment figures over the period and Q4 marked its worst performance in a decade.

Looking at the figures for the full year of 2022, smartphone shipments fell 11.3% year-on-year to just 1.2 billion units. According to IDC, 2022 will represent “the lowest annual shipments since 2013 due to consumer demand, inflation and economic uncertainty.”

2022 Annual Figures from IDC

“We’ve never seen shipments in the holiday quarter be lower than in previous quarters. However, weak demand and high inventories have forced suppliers to significantly reduce shipments,” said IDC researcher Nabila Popal.

As a result, IDC expects the smartphone market not to see shipment growth until the end of 2023. One reason is the ongoing inflation that hampers consumer demand. Another factor is that many smartphone owners have decided to put upgrades on hold.

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“We are seeing continued decline in consumer demand as refresh rates have increased over the past 40 months in most major markets,” said IDC analyst Anthony Scarsella. “With 2022 declining by more than 11% year-over-year, 2023 will be a cautionary year as vendors rethink their device portfolios and channels think twice before bringing in excess inventory.”

The good news is that consumers can find attractive discounts or trade-in offers on new smartphones as vendors try to spur growth. dff

This news comes ahead of Samsung’s Unpacked event on February 1, when it is expected to announce the Galaxy S23, Samsung’s next flagship smartphone.

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