In 2022, the smartphone market faced challenges due to a range of factors, including the war in Ukraine, inflationary pressures, and economic uncertainty. These challenges had a significant impact on consumer spending, causing it to remain low throughout the year. The cost-of-living crisis, labor shortages, and degraded consumer spending power added to the pressure on the smartphone market, particularly in the fourth quarter of 2022.
This resulted in double-digit declines in the shipments of each of the top five smartphone players, as consumers were reluctant to purchase new devices. The market was also impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to disruptions in the supply chain, production processes, and demand for smartphones.
Despite these challenges, Apple was able to weather the storm and maintain its market share, thanks in part to the strong performance of its iPhone Pro series. According to Counterpoint Research, Apple achieved its highest-ever global smartphone shipment, revenue, and operating profit share in 2022, propelled by sales of the iPhone 14 lineup.
In Q4 2022, the tech giant shipped 70 million iPhones, up from 49.2 million in the third quarter but down from 81.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2021. While the shipments, revenue, and operational profits all decreased year over year in Q4 2022, Apple held an 18% shipping share, 48% of the market’s revenue, and 85% of the segment’s profit. The reason for the decreased shipping totals was not demand but rather production problems in China, caused by the COVID-19 breakout at the Zhengzhou factory that produces the vast majority of the Pro series volumes.
Counterpoint Research’s Jeff Fieldhack said about Apple’s performance: “Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic and geopolitical turmoil of 2022, Apple was able to maintain its market share and profitability due to its proficient management of production problems. The iPhone Pro series continued to perform well, and its share of iPhone shipments could have been even higher if not for the production issues at the Zhengzhou factory. As a result, some Pro series volumes were pushed to January.”
Global shipments of smartphones decreased by 18% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2022 to reach 304 million units, which was the lowest number for a holiday quarter since 2013. Shipments fell to 1.2 billion units for the entire year, which was also the lowest level since 2013.
Despite these challenges, the premium sector of the smartphone market, where Apple’s entire product line is located, was less impacted by economic and geopolitical risks and saw many users opt for higher-end devices for their reliability.