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Industry stabilisation sees smartphone shipments rebound

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 06 May 2024
Global smartphone shipments totalled 300.4 million units in the first quarter of 2024.
Global smartphone shipments totalled 300.4 million units in the first quarter of 2024.

Global smartphone shipments totalled 300.4 million units in the first quarter of 2024 (1Q24), representing an 11.6% increase compared to the same time last year.

This is based on a preliminary shipment survey by research firm Omdia, which says the increase marks the second consecutive quarterly increase after a prolonged period of market stagnation and decline from 2Q21 to 4Q23.

It suggests industry stability, says Omdia, following strong smartphone demand between the fourth quarter of 2020 and third quarter of 2021, followed by supply chain problems in 2022.

Omdia indicates that many smartphone makers recorded double-digit year-on-year growth, including Xiaomi, Honor, Motorola and Realme, with Transsion and Huawei seeing triple-digit growth. However, Apple and Oppo saw a year-on-year decline.

Samsung maintained the top spot, recording 60.4 million units. This is the most by any original equipment maker (OEM) in 1Q24.

“With the launch of the latest S24 series flagship phones, including Galaxy AI features, there has been a robust growth of 13.5% from 4Q23.”

After the surge in Apple shipments in 4Q23, the US-based tech firm’s 1Q24 total decreased to 50.7 million units. “The decrease can be attributed to delayed production and shipments from 4Q22 to 1Q23, resulting in higher-than-usual shipment totals,” says Omdia.

Jusy Hong, senior research manager in Omdia’s smartphone group, explains: “China is an important market for Apple, with the second-largest shipment volume after the United States.

“However, Apple has been facing intense competition from Huawei in the premium segment of the Chinese local market since the second half of last year, which has contributed to disappointing iPhone shipments in the first quarter. Performance in the Chinese market will be an important factor in determining Apple’s overall shipments this year.”

Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi, Transsion and the Oppo Group made up the top five list of OEMs, placing in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Xiaomi made 40.8 million shipments, followed by Transsion with 27.5 million and Oppo recording 25 million units shipped.

“Increased shipments in low-end and midrange smartphones contributed to Transsion’s growth in 2023; however, this demand is being cautiously monitored due to its volatility, which is contingent upon economic conditions. Sustaining an economic recovery of the low-end segment hinges on an economic rebound,” adds Zaker Li, principal analyst at Omdia.

Other brands include Vivo, Honor and Huawei, with the latter rising from ninth to eighth position in Omdia’s research. “Huawei recorded successive quarter-on-quarter growth throughout 2023, increasing from 6.4 million units in 1Q23, to 12.3 million units in 4Q23. Now, in 1Q24, it reached 13.1 million units, meaning it doubled its shipments year-on-year.”

Rounding up the top 10 global smartphone shipments are Motorola and Realme, which recorded 13 million and 10 million units, respectively.

“The most noticeable trend in the smartphone market is the polarisation of smartphones to low-end and premium smartphones. This has disproportionately benefited Apple and Huawei, while brands focusing on mid-priced phones − such as Samsung, Oppo and Realme − have faced challenges.

“As we move through 2024, the global market is expected to grow year-on-year, particularly in the first half. However, these dynamics will persist in determining which OEMs will benefit the most from this growth,” states Hong.

The first quarter results of global smartphone shipments in 2024.
The first quarter results of global smartphone shipments in 2024.

While it recorded a decline in smartphone shipments, Apple stayed at the top of the worldwide tablet market in the first quarter of this year.

This is according to the latest Canalys data, which reveals worldwide tablet shipments increased modestly by 1% in the first quarter of 2024, reaching 33.7 million units.

This growth, says the firm, follows four consecutive quarters of year-on-year declines, attributing it to a revival in consumer spending and the stabilisation of global economies.

“The tablet industry has had a positive start to 2024, and the rest of the year should bring further relief after a difficult 2023,” explains Canalys research manager Himani Mukka.

“Despite the extended period of cautious consumer spending on tablets, vendors have remained ambitious. New market entrants have kept investing in the category, while the traditional heavyweights are delivering on innovation to excite customers and drive new use cases.

“Additionally, 2024 is set to bring about a rise in new tablet form factors and functionality, with manufacturers focusing on both foldable designs and eye-wear-free 3D content viewing.

“The tablet market is on track to stabilise above pre-pandemic levels, supported by a gradual recovery trajectory. The realisation of postponed commercial and government deployments from last year and the rapid expansion of 5G infrastructure in untapped markets will bolster refreshed demand for tablets.”

Zoning in on OEM performance, Canalys shows Apple shipped 12 million iPads during the period under review, giving it a 36% market share.

Samsung grew by 1% to hold second place, with 6.8 million units shipped. Huawei was in third place for a successive quarter, shipping 2.7 million units, with strong annual growth of 70%.

Huawei’s success was mainly propelled by demand in its home market of China and across the Asia Pacific region, notes the research firm.

Lenovo and Amazon took fourth and fifth place, respectively, both shipping over two million tablets.

Global tablet shipments increased by 1% in Q1 of 2024, reaching 33.7 million units.
Global tablet shipments increased by 1% in Q1 of 2024, reaching 33.7 million units.