Smartphone Shipments Saw Biggest-Ever Drop at the End of 2022

Global smartphone shipments experienced their largest-ever decline at the end of 2022, dropping almost 20% in the fourth quarter, according to market research firm International Data Corporation, which released its latest Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report on Wednesday. 

Smartphone shipments dropped 18.3% year over year last quarter, representing the biggest decline ever in a single quarter, ICD data shows. The drop was partially responsible for the 11.3% annual decline in 2022 overall, which saw only 1.21 billion units shipped, the lowest annual shipping total since 2013. Only 300.3 million units shipped in the final quarter of 2022, according to the IDC report.

The declines can be attributed to a convergence of economic factors, such as softening consumer demand, inflation, a looming recession and global supply chain problems, which are also putting downward pressure on its forecast for 2023, the IDC report said.

“We have never seen shipments in the holiday quarter come in lower than the previous quarter,” IDC Research Director Nabila Popal said in the report. “However, weakened demand and high inventory caused vendors to cut back drastically on shipments. Heavy sales and promotions during the quarter helped deplete existing inventory rather than drive shipment growth.”

The IDC’s report notes that even “seemingly immune” tech giant Apple has been impacted by the economic uncertainties plaguing the smartphone market too, with unexpected lockdowns at factories in China delaying Apple product shipments earlier this year. 

However, there may be a silver lining for consumers, as the IDC report notes that people may be able to find “even more generous trade-in offers and promotions continuing well into 2023 as the market will think of new methods to drive upgrades and sell more devices, specifically high-end models.” 

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