Smartphone shipments slip in Q3

Smartphone Shipments

Smartphone shipments slipped 6.7% year-on-year in Q3 2021, ending a period of sustained growth, IDC said this week.

Reporting the figure in its Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, IDC noted a total of 331.2m units during the quarter, down from 354.9m in Q3 2020.

Q3 is traditionally a weak quarter for phone shipments, and IDC had already predicted shrinkage during this period. However, the drop exceeded the analyst company's expected 2.9% decline in shipments more than twofold, due largely to supply chain issues, it said.

"The supply chain and component shortage issues have finally caught up to the smartphone market, which until now seemed almost immune to this issue despite its adverse impact on many other adjacent industries," said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC's Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers.

The supply chain situation is worsening, with issues compounding to affect more vendors, Popal warned, pointing to power shortages in China. These have contributed to a 300% rise in silicon prices this year. The shortages have begun hitting large vendors harder, with Apple reportedly restricting production of the iPhone 13.

The US got off lightly with a 0.2% drop in smartphone shipments, while Western Europe and China also suffered smaller declines. This is due to vendors prioritizing those regions. Central and Eastern Europe took the brunt of it, along with APAC countries excluding China and Japan.

Samsung retained the top spot with a 20.8% market share on shipments down 14.2%. Apple occupied second place, but enjoyed the largest increase in shipments, growing by a fifth from 41.7m to 50.4m to capture 15.2% of the market. It knocked Xiaomi from the second place it had enjoyed in Q3 2020. The Chinese brand now sits in third place with a 13.4% market share, on shipments down 4.6%.

Chinese brands Vivo and OPPO enjoyed a 5.8% and 8.6% boost in shipments respectively to retain fourth and fifth place. Other brands suffered as companies in the top five took more sales, dropping shipments by almost a fifth from 124.3m to 101.1m.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.