Lowest Smartphone Sales in a Decade Could Give Apple Top Unit Sales for First Time

Lowest Smartphone Sales in a Decade Could Give Apple Top Unit Sales for First Time

Slowing smartphone sales have 2023 on track to be the lowest-selling year in a decade for iPhones, Androids, and other devices, according to a new report. But relatively solid sales in the premium and ultra-premium market segments could boost Apple Inc.’s smartphone revenue by unit above its competitors’.

Key Takeaways

  • Global smartphone sales are forecast to decline 6% for the year, based on current shipments.
  • Economic challenges in Asia and North America have exacerbated the downtrend in smartphone shipments.
  • Comparatively robust sales in the “premium” and “ultra-premium” market segments could boost Apple‘s smartphone revenue above competitors’.

Counterpoint Research’s latest Global Smartphone Shipment Forecast suggests total shipments will be down 6% for the year to 1.15 billion units. Smartphone shipments have been declining since 2017, but current economic headwinds are exacerbating that trend.

Asia has experienced “intensifying declines across emerging markets” and economic hurdles that are delaying a Chinese turnaround. “Apple is well-positioned as the premium segment continues to gain more share” in the China market, Counterpoint’s Associate Director for China, Ethan Qi, said.

The situation in North America isn’t much better, with current trajectories indicating a potential double-digit sales drop for the year. Counterpoint North America Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said, in part, “we’re watching Q4 with interest because the iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers.” A new iPhone launch will also entail promotional offers on older models of the phone, contributing to increased smartphone shipments.

Counterpoint sees growth in the “premium” and “ultra-premium” smartphone segments disproportionately benefiting iPhone maker Apple (AAPL), which is poised to outsell competitors for the first time on a unit basis.

“It’s the closest Apple’s been to the top spot,” Fieldhack said. “Assuming Apple doesn’t run into production problems like it did last year, it’s really a toss-up at this point.”

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