According to a report by Counterpoint Research, 280.2 million smartphone units were shipped in Q1 2023, witnessing further contraction in the post-holiday-season quarter. Senior analyst Harmeet Singh Walia said that this was the weakest holiday-season quarter since 2013.
The market research firm blamed the slower-than-expected recovery in China.
“The smartphone market was also hit by some major brands supplying fewer new devices to a market struggling with high inventories at a time when consumers are choosing to renew less often, but with more durable smartphones when they do buy,” Walia said.
Samsung top, Apple shipment least hit
Despite Samsung’s shipments declining 19% YoY, it grabbed the top spot by shipping 60.6 million units and capturing a 22% market share. Samsung beta Apple’s shipment with a lead of 1%.
Apple’s YoY shipment decline was the least among the top five brands, recording its highest-ever Q1 share of 21%. Apple was able to meet the demand for the iPhone 14 series which spilt over Q4 2022.
Apple and Samsung also remain the most profitable brands, together capturing 96% of global smartphone operating profits. Xiaomi, Oppo (including OnePlus) and Vivo completed the top 5 list and were hit by a seasonal slowdown in China.
Apple leads revenue and operating profit share
Even though global smartphone revenue and operating profit were also hit (not as much as shipments), Apple led the market in terms of revenue and operating profit share.
This was due, in part, to the lower-than-usual decline in Apple’s shipments, to 58 million units in Q1 2023. Apple managed to capture nearly half of all smartphone revenues despite losing the top spot in terms of shipments.
Why Apple is in a strong position
According to research director Jeff Fieldhack, Apple outperforming the market due to multiple factors. The primary reason is the stickiness of its ecosystem which prevents its customers from choosing a cheaper smartphone even in times of economic difficulty.
The second is the sustainability factor as it is becoming a priority for many. Apple is also attracting users who are willing to spend more for longer-lasting devices.
“Thirdly, it is the preferred brand for Gen Z consumers in the West and is thereby positioning itself for sustained success. At the same time, it has been filling the void left by Huawei in China’s premium market. So, Apple is able to weather economic and other fluctuations better than its rivals while enjoying unflinching loyalty,” Fieldhack explained.