Smartphones: Apple gains on Samsung but total sales drop due to component shortages


Liam Tung


Liam Tung

| November 24, 2021

| Topic: Smartphones

Global smartphone sales to consumers fell 6.8% in the third quarter of 2021 on a year-on-year basis because of ongoing component shortages.

Worldwide smartphone sales — as opposed to shipments — fell from 366.27 million in Q3 2020 to 342.29 million in the current quarter, according to tech analyst Gartner. 

Samsung led Q3 2021 with 69 million units, down from 81 million units a year ago, while Apple’s iPhone sales rose from 40.5 million last Q3 to 48.5 million units in Q3 2021.     

Not surprisingly, the main reason for the fall in sales was due to industry-wide component shortages, which caused lower inventory and delayed products. 

“The current shortage of components, such as radio frequency and power management integrated circuits, delayed smartphone production globally. This disrupted the supply-demand equilibrium and end-users were burdened with limited choices at point of sale,” said Gartner.

Apple isn’t immune to the shortages, and last month reportedly cut iPhone 13 production by over 10% because Broadcom and Texas Instruments can’t supply enough chips. iPhone 13 shipping estimates currently indicate a two to three week delivery time. 

Apple chief Tim Cook said the company’s Q4 earnings report that sales would have been higher by $6 billion were it not for chip shortages and supply-chain constraints. But, according to Gartner, component shortages affected low-end smartphones worse than premium phones. 

“Despite strong consumer demand, smartphone sales declined due to delayed product launches, longer delivery schedule and insufficient inventory at the channel,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. 

“Supply constraints impacted the production schedule of basic and utility smartphones much more than premium smartphones.”

Despite Samsung sales slipping, Gartner reckons its premium foldable phones Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 sold well. 

The top 5 vendors by sales were Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo. 

Apple reclaimed the number two position in sales to end-users and Xiaomi moved back to number three. Samsung maintained its overall lead in smartphone sales, though its market share declined 1.9% year-over-year. Chinese smartphone vendors Xiaomi, Vivo and OPPO increased their market share.

Vivo was the fastest growing brand with sales up 20.9% off the back of 13 new smartphones in Q3 2021 and a bigger focus on Europe and the Middle East. 

Of course, the smartphone industry isn’t alone in facing a component shortage, which has also affected everything from the supply of games consoles and the auto industry. 









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