The global smartphone market has encountered another quarter of decline, with shipments plummeting by 7.8 per cent year-over-year in Q2 2023, according to preliminary data released by the International Data Corporation (IDC). This downturn marks the eighth consecutive quarter of contraction for the smartphone industry, reflecting various challenges including weak demand, inflation, macroeconomic uncertainties, and an oversupply of inventory.
Counterpoint, in a blog post, attributed the slowdown in growth to multiple factors, such as the global smartphone market moving past its growth phase, longer consumer replacement cycles, convergence in device innovation, and the emergence of a more mature refurbished market for smartphones. Furthermore, the high volume low-to-mid-tier price segment contributed significantly to the overall slowdown.
However, amidst the bleak scenario, the premium segment ($600 plus) demonstrated remarkable resilience, continuing to grow during the quarter. Approximately one out of every five smartphones sold in Q2 2023 belonged to the premium segment. Consumers in this category appear to prioritize a superior experience, supported by easy availability of finance options across key geographies.
The premium segment’s robust performance also translated into significant market share for key players. Samsung retained its leading position with a 22 per cent market share, driven by the strong performance of its Galaxy-A series worldwide. Meanwhile, Apple secured the second spot, recording its highest-ever Q2 market share. The Cupertino-based tech giant witnessed record shares in multiple new markets, most notably India, where it experienced an impressive 50 per cent year-on-year growth in Q2 2023.
On the other hand, some major smartphone brands faced challenges in their respective markets. Xiaomi encountered headwinds in China and India, its largest markets, and is seeking to offset declines by expanding into other markets and refreshing its portfolio. Oppo, despite facing losses in Western Europe, performed relatively well in its home market, China, and India, thanks to the popularity of its OnePlus branded devices.
In the context of regional market performance, developed markets like the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan experienced the most significant contractions, witnessing double-digit annual declines. High-interest rates affecting disposable incomes were cited as a contributing factor to the decline, despite efforts by OEMs and channels to leverage promotions and “big sale” festivals to clear built-up inventory.
In contrast, markets in China, India, the Middle East, and Africa experienced relatively less decline in smartphone shipments during the quarter.
The smartphone market’s prospects for the second half of the year appear cautiously optimistic. Although the ongoing challenges continue to impact the industry, analysts believe there is plenty of potential for growth and opportunity awaiting in the coming months.
As the industry navigates through the changing landscape and consumer demands, manufacturers and vendors are expected to focus on innovative solutions and adapt to the evolving needs of consumers in the post-pandemic era. With the rate of decline showing signs of slowing and inventory levels improving, the smartphone market could be poised for a recovery and a brighter future ahead.