With the pandemic accelerating the demand for smartphones and laptops, it is easy to assume that smartphone sales skyrocketed during the pandemic. While that was true to an extent, factors such as the global chip shortage continued to prevail in 2021 and had a detrimental impact on the smartphone industry, which grew by just 1% in the fourth quarter of 2021, latest numbers from Canalys show.
Apart from the chip shortage, factors such as the supply chain disruption (which has been plaguing low-end vendors the most) and the rising number of COVID-19 cases hampered the growth of the smartphone industry. According to Canalys VP Mobility Nicole Peng, it will take years for the major foundries to significantly increase chip capacity. “Smartphone brands are already innovating to make the most of their circumstances, tweaking device specs in response to available materials, approaching emerging chipmakers to secure new sources for ICs, focusing product lines on the best-selling models, and staggering new product releases. These practices lend an advantage to larger brands, and they are set to stay for the short term, as bottlenecks will not ease until the second half of 2022,” she said.
Not all news is gloomy however. The strong performance of the iPhone 13 in the markets fuelled Apple’s rise back at the top, overtaking Samsung and accounting for 22% of global smartphone shipments in the final quarter of the year. This is an improvement from its performance in Q3 2021, where it secured second place.
For the first time in three quarters, Apple has regained the top spot, and you can thank the iPhone 13 for that. It is a slight fall from its market share in Q4 2020, though – 23%. According to Canalys, the iPhone clocked an “unprecedented” performance in Mainland China, and aggressive pricing for its flagship devices kept the value proposition strong. While its supply chain is starting to recover, the Cupertino-based tech giant was still forced to cut production in the final quarter due to a shortage of key components and was unable to develop and roll out enough iPhones to meet the rising demand. Canalys observed that the company had maintained adequate delivery times in prioritized markets, but the same could not be said of other markets.
As for the other companies, Samsung came in second with a market share of 20% in the final quarter, which is better than the 17% market share it had in Q4 2020. Chinese smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi and Oppo secured the third and fourth positions respectively. While Xiaomi’s market share remained the same in Q4 2020 and Q4 2021 (12%), Oppo’s market share fell from 10% in Q4 2020 to 9% in Q4 2021. Vivo completed the top five with a market share of 8% in Q4 2021, a drop of 1% from its market share in Q4 2020.