Apple is inching closer to Samsung in gloomy global smartphone market

Apple is inching closer to Samsung in gloomy global smartphone market
The global smartphone market has taken hit after hit in the last few years, shrinking under the early pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering another big decline (at least on the supply side) as a direct result of chip shortages most major manufacturers struggled to overcome for the largest part of 2021, and heavily bleeding since the beginning of 2022 due to "gloomy" economic conditions.

Surprisingly (or not), the latest hurdle preventing smartphone shipment figures from returning to their pre-pandemic levels is proving even harder to clear than the previous two, hurting four of the world's top five vendors between July and September of this year while causing the market as a whole to contract by 9 percent compared to the same timeframe in 2021.

Although a 9 percent year-on-year drop in quarterly sales may not sound dramatic, we're apparently looking at the mobile industry's lowest Q3 score here since 2014 (!!!), which is certainly, in lack of a better word, bad. On the bright side, the holidays are upon us, which are... sadly unlikely to change the outlook much.

The true winner is in second place

We realize that's a bit of a logical contradiction and we're also ready to be named (rightfully or not) Samsung haters for the above verdict, but it's difficult to view the market's overall Q3 2022 champion as a "real" winner when the global silver medalist is the only top five player that managed to expand not just its slice of the pie but its sales numbers as well from Q3 2021.

Apple is a measly four percentage points behind Samsung now in market share, compared to the world leader's six percent advantage registered this time last year. That strongly suggests the Cupertino-based tech giant's own lead will be pretty substantial during the normally prolific holiday season following a narrow 22 to 20 percent victory in the final three months of 2021.

Given that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 went on sale worldwide with more than a month left in the year's third calendar quarter, it's crystal clear that Samsung should have done better than jump from a 21 percent market share during both Q2 2022 and Q3 2021 to 22 percent.

Apple, of course, released the iPhone 14, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max slightly earlier this year compared to the iPhone 13 roster back in 2021, which is probably one of the reasons why overall demand for the company's iOS handsets showed unusual "resilience" to the global market "downturn."

What's on the horizon?

In short, nothing (particularly) good. Not for Apple and Samsung and not for third, fourth, and fifth placers Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo respectively. 

Canalys analysts expect smartphone demand to remain weak not only through the end of 2022 but in the first half of 2023 as well, with more and more consumers shifting their focus from "electronic hardware" purchases in general to "other essential spending" like, well, food, heating, and gas.

That's certainly a sad and seemingly inescapable state of events for an industry that was booming not so long ago, but if you can afford to buy a new phone this holiday season, these demand troubles might not be the worst news you've received this year.

"Aggressive discounting and promotions" apparently helped Samsung avoid a larger decline near the end of the year's third quarter, with even deeper price cuts, great bundle deals, and especially significant discounts on "older generation devices" expected all through Q4... and not just as far as Galaxy handsets are concerned.

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All major mobile device manufacturers (yes, including Apple) are likely to offer a "steady" stream of sweet "festive" deals over the next couple of months to try to "stabilize" their market share, and of course, we'll be here to advise you on the best time to buy the best phones in the world every step of the way to Christmas (and beyond).

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