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Global smartphone shipments fell 6% in Q3 21, Apple retakes second place, report

Global smartphone shipments fell 6% in Q3 21, Apple retakes second place, report
29 Oct, 2021

Global smartphone shipments fell by 6% in the September quarter of CY 2021 due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage that has disrupted supply of electronic devices across categories, Canalys reported in its latest quarterly tracker, released Friday. The total number of smartphones shipped in the quarter was 326 million. 

Smartphone vendors in the Android ecosystem were most impacted as their collective shipment fell by 9%. This has allowed Apple to bounce back to the number two spot, which it had conceded to Chinese company Xiaomi in the June quarter. With 49.2 million unit shipments, Apple's market share for the September quarter was 15%. The strong demand for the recently launched iPhone 13 was a major driver for Apple's growth.

According to Le Xuan Chiew, research analyst, Canalys, “pre-orders were high and, unlike last year, Apple could use the full might of its retail stores to drive sales. For customers with a two or three-year-old iPhone, the devices have proved a compelling upgrade, with better cameras, battery life, and, of course, 5G." 

Chiew believes wholesale discounting on last year's iPhone 12 also helped Apple sustain the momentum. "It is making rapid progress with new B2B channel initiatives around the world. And it continues to curry favor with network operators, helping to drive their user bases toward 5G, and getting iPhones prioritized in their portfolios," added Chiew. 

Chiew further said the American company will face some supply pressures in the ongoing December quarter and has softened its iPhone production target for the quarter to prepare for it. 

Apple, in its quarterly financial results for the September quarter of the fiscal year 2021, released Thursday, reported total revenue of $83.4 billion. Though it was 29% higher than the previous year, it was lower than the $85 billion expected by analysts.

According to the Canalys report, in terms of overall shipments, Samsung continues to be the number one smartphone vendor. The South Korean company shipped 69.4 million smartphones and accounted for 21% of the market, up from 19% in the previous quarter.  

Xiaomi's market share fell from 17% in the June quarter to 14% in the September quarter as it shipped 44 million smartphones. 

"Samsung again struggled with the supply of its Galaxy A series devices. Xiaomi also saw demand outstrip supply, but this was partly due to a blockbuster performance in the previous quarter, which depleted available stock," said Ben Stanton, principal analyst, Canalys. 

According to Stanton, Samsung shipped over 3 million units of its new foldable smartphones- the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Fold 3, in Q3 2021.  Though the numbers were impressive given their high price tag, it was not enough to fill the vacuum caused by the shortage of units in the Galaxy A series. 

OPPO and Vivo, the other two Chinese vendors in the top 5 with 11% market share each, saw a rebound in September after the pandemic ravaged core markets in South Asia in the previous quarter, added Stanton. Their YoY shipments grew by 18% and 8% respectively.