Global smartphone shipments fell for the third consecutive quarter in the first three months of 2022 due to the impact of geopolitical, macroeconomic and pandemic-related trends, according to industry research firms.

Both IDC and Omdia pointed to recent shutdowns in parts of China as a major contributor to a further decline in quarterly shipments. Omdia’s figures painted a grimmer picture: it said global shipments fell 12.9% year-on-year to 308 million in the first quarter. The company cited a slowdown in the Chinese market and the resulting sharp drop in shipments from domestic manufacturers as a key factor.

Data from IDC was a little less grim, suggesting global smartphone shipments fell 8.9% year-over-year to 314.1 million units during the period.

“Although some decline was expected in the first quarter, due to ongoing supply and logistics issues and a difficult year-over-year comparison, things appeared to have gotten worse,” Nabila pointed out. Popal, research director at IDC.

The company noted “strong concerns” about inflation and economic instability in all regions, but mainly in China, which led to “lower consumer spending”.

“This is now on top of rising component and transport costs and recent shutdowns in Shanghai, which are compounding an already difficult situation. On top of all this, there is the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which immediately affected this region and continues on an unknown trajectory. Given all these uncertainties, most OEMs are adopting a more conservative growth strategy for 2022,” Popal added.

In fact, tension from the Russian-Ukrainian war dragged the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region down nearly 20% year-over-year as the outlook for the majority of markets of the region remain uncertain. Although significant, IDC estimates that shipments in the region represent only 6-7% of the global number in terms of volumes and about 5% in terms of revenues.

However, IDC also pointed to China and other parts of APAC as causing “the biggest drop” in global volumes, as the markets account for nearly half of all global shipments. Over the period, these regions fell by a total of 12.3%.

“Almost everything that has happened in recent months has been a headwind in the smartphone market and, realistically, in many other technology segments. Our research tells us that Samsung and Apple have sailed a little better in the supply chain situation than their competitors, and as a result, we have seen a reduction in orders from the next round of major OEMs,” commented Ryan Reith, Group Vice President, IDC Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

He expressed optimism, however, that market demand will pick up and “it’s just a matter of when” it picks up.

In terms of vendors, Samsung retained its crown at the top of the shipment chart, with a 23-24% market share, according to IDC and Omdia estimates. The latter suggested that the South Korean company saw a lower decline in deliveries than its Chinese competitors because its dependence on China was “very low” for production and sales, especially since it closed the manufacturing facilities it had in the market.

Apple was the only smartphone vendor to report year-over-year market share growth, claiming an 18% share of global shipments from 16% a year earlier, according to IDC.

“Apple’s dominance in the premium market is becoming more and more solid,” Omdia said, adding that sales of the vendor’s latest series of handsets, the iPhone 13, have increased compared to its predecessor.

You can find a breakdown of shipments, as estimated by IDC, below: