After a brief spike in growth at the start of the pandemic, tablet and smartphone sales fell sharply in the second half of 2020, only to return dramatically in 2021.
Following the 12.5% collapse recorded towards the end of 2020, smartphone sales increased by 6% in 2021 globally, but not all players in the industry benefited equally. Well connected to essential component suppliers, giants such as Apple and Samsung have overcome the semiconductor crisis much more easily, easily filling the gap left by smaller players, which has not been able to keep up with market demand.
With the general reopening of the world’s economies, a major impact on boosting sales in the smartphone market has certainly had the “democratization” of 5G technology, phones equipped with this connection option appearing in almost all price categories.
Compared to the top five smartphone makers in the world, sales growth was even higher for the top two major players in the industry. Thus, Samsung reported an increase for the year 2021 by 7.6% sales, with deliveries estimated at 272 million units, accounting for 19% of the entire smartphone market. In the opposite camp, Apple reported sales in 19.7% increase, delivering 239 million devices for a market share of 16.7%. Although not as spectacular, sales of Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo have increased significantly since the peak of the pandemic.
However, the semiconductor crisis made its mark in the second half of 2021, with most manufacturers reporting a cap on sales, driven by a lack of key components such as radio frequency units, power management circuits and other chips.
After the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it now seems that the semiconductor crisis is about to be overcome. Following the initial capping, Apple’s sales for Q4-2021 rose 3.8% to 83 million units. Thus, the American giant became the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, with a market share of 21.9%. For comparison, South Koreans reached a market share of 18.2%, after an 11% increase in sales reported for the quarter Q4-2021.
Although Chinese manufacturers have hoped to capitalize on Huawei’s decline and LG’s smartphone market exit, boosting sales in both local and western markets, it seems that the popularity of the iPhone in China has exceeded all expectations, compromising their growth prospects.