According to TrendForce research, global smartphone production volume in 1Q22 was 310 million units, a QoQ decrease of 12.8%, primarily attributed to ongoing inventory adjustments in various distribution channels performed by a number of brands and the cyclical off-season, which led to relatively weak production performance in 1Q22. In 2Q22, a resurgence of the pandemic in the world’s largest consumer market, China, exacerbated the drop in global 2Q22 mobile phone production to 309 million units. However, compared to the same period in 2021, when a resurgent pandemic in India and Southeast Asia caused a sharp drop in total production, mobile phone production grew slightly by 0.7%.
TrendForce further indicates that the war between Russia and Ukraine continues to exacerbate the rising global inflation issue. High inflation means that personal disposable income will shrink and will inevitably lead to prolonged replacement cycles and reduced purchasing budgets for individual devices. Summarizing 2022, corrections in 1H22 were primarily due to the impact of China’s lockdowns on the economy while corrections in 2H22 highlight the inflation crisis. The total production forecast for the entire year will be revised down to 1.333 billion units and there is still room for downward revisions in the future.
Due to China’s economic headwinds, shipments fall again to 283 million, an annual decline of nearly 13%
From a regional perspective, due to China’s insistence on maintaining a strict “dynamic zero-COVID” policy and the recent festering of the pandemic, economic performance is also facing greater downward pressure and the demand for smartphones has likewise cooled in the face of pandemic prevention measures. Overall, the sales market share of China’s smartphone market still ranks first in the world but, due to the impact of the pandemic, its market share has dropped from 24.2% last year to 21.1% this year while the corresponding total shipment forecast fell from 325 million units last year to 283 million units, an annual decline of approximately 12.9%. Although the impact of the pandemic in the remainder of the region has been comparatively blunted, in the face of a rising inflation crisis, even the overpopulated Indian market will be unable to support substantial growth. From the perspective of the 2022 national shipment share ranking forecast, the top three positions will be held by China, India, and the United States, accounting for a 21.1%, 13.1%, and 11.0% share, respectively.
Although the global smartphone market is becoming increasingly saturated, it is still worth looking forward to demand in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia and Africa when caught in an environment with limited momentum. . Due to the recent expansion of infrastructure construction in Africa, the regional smartphone market has the opportunity to replicate the prior development path of Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. TrendForce forecasts total smartphone shipments in Africa to reach approximately 107 million units in 2022. Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 78% of Africa’s total population, holds the greatest potential and countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania are worthy of attention.
Taking the Sahara Desert as a natural barrier, North Africa cleaves closer to Europe and the Middle East, modernizing earlier, and possessing higher GDP per capita and relatively greater spending power. Looking at Egypt, its mainstream smartphone brands in 2021 were Samsung, OPPO, and Xiaomi. As for Africa south of the Sahara, taking Nigeria as an example, mainstream brands are TECNO, Infinix, and Itel, which is very different from the Egyptian market. TECNO, Infinix, and Itel are owned by Transsion Holdings of China and, in terms of the overall African smartphone market, Transsion Holdings is already dominant. These three brands captured an estimated combined market share of approximately 52% in 2021, eclipsing Samsung’s 15%.
TrendForce believes that mainstream mobile phone brands in Africa are very different from markets in Europe, North America, and East Asia and are mainly influenced by factors such as local spending power, communication services, and user needs, while mobile phone pricing is undoubtedly the decisive factor. For example, approximately 60% of smartphones sold in Egypt are priced between $100 and $200. While in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding a few countries with high GDP per capita such as Gabon and South Africa, most smartphones are sold at below US$100 in the market. However, from the perspective of mainstream global smartphone brands, the price of low-end smartphones is still higher than US$160 which remains quite unaffordable for the majority of local consumers. This pricing gap gives TECNO, Infinix, and Itel more room to operate.
In addition, the reason Transsion Holdings’ brands can dominate the African smartphone market includes many localized marketing strategies in addition to price factors. For example, cleaving close to local consumption habits, setting up physical sales locations, launching models that support 4 sim cards to meet the needs of users with multiple phone numbers, or installing large-capacity batteries in low-end mobile phones to reduce the inconvenience of frequent searches for charging stations, all of which help to enhance the competitive strength of the Transsion brand. Transsion Holdings is expected to continue leading the African market from 2022 to 2025.
TV shipment performance in 2022 will return to a pre-pandemic cycle but the Russian-Ukrainian war has indirectly led to rising inflation. With consumer spending unchanged, expenditures on non-essentials are bound to feel the squeeze. Russia accounts for 82% of TV shipments in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) region and Ukraine also maintains a 12% market share. As the war drags on, the region will bleed 1.5 to 2 million TV sets in the short term, and TV shipments may fall by more than 3 million sets in the medium term. Although demand in the CIS region is not positive, Southeast Asia and emerging markets were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, deferring a portion of demand. Overall, TV shipments in 2022 will adjust downward to 215 million units, or 2.4% YoY and a decrease of 0.7% from the previous 2022 forecast.
According to TrendForce statistics, TV shipments in the CIS region account for 4% of the global total, of which 60% consists of 32-inch and 43-inch models. The two major TV brands, Samsung and LG, account for nearly 50% of the combined market in the CIS region. At present, due to factors such as geopolitics and economic sanctions, shipments to Russian factories for back-end TV assembly have been halted and Samsung has gone one step further by halting sales.
Samsung and LGE account for more than 50% of CIS region market share, hardest hit by the Russian-Ukrainian war
Russian demand for TV sets falls at 6-7 million units per year. Due to high tariffs, TV giants Samsung and LGE have been encouraged to set up TV assembly plants in Russia which, not only reduce tariff costs, but also enjoy the benefits of zero-tariff exports to Ukraine.
Samsung and LGE originally sent imports from South Korea to Russia in the form of CKD (Complete knock down) in order to assemble TV sets in local factories and enjoy duty-free benefits. However, the war has suspended all shipments to Russia.
It is worth mentioning, as damage has been dealt to the two Korean brands, Chinese brand Haier has chosen to accelerate its deployment in the Russian market. Haier is expected to successfully occupy third place in TV sales in the CIS region with a market share of 11% in 2022. In 2021 Haier’s shipments in the CIS region reached 800,000 units. In 2022, it has an opportunity to cannibalize lost market share from Korean brands with a shipment target of one million units. Judging from the TV production capacity of local factories, volume maxes out at 2 million units. Haier is forecast to become the biggest winner of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Soaring shipping costs portend possible further downgrade of 2022 TV shipments
Due to factors such as reduced shipments and inventory control, the two Korean brands have gradually adjusted their purchase volume of TV panels in the near term, relegating 32- and 43-inch TV panels, units that had an opportunity to increase in price in April 2022, to a downward price trend again. Due to falling demand for TVs and IT, concerns over panel overcapacity are overwhelming and some panel manufacturers have decided to begin gradual capacity adjustment in April 2022.
Of the challenges plaguing the TV market in 2022, in addition to the existing problem of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian war and rising global inflation also add variables to demand. In addition, cargo container shortages and port congestion increased shipping costs significantly in 2021, indirectly inflating the cost of TV sets with costs rising as TV sizes grow. Even though current panel pricing has dropped by 30% to 40% compared with its high point in 2021, no expected reduction in freight costs in 2022 will inevitably affect the scale of branded promotions and stocking during the peak season of overseas markets in 2H22. Therefore, there is still room for TV shipments in 2022 to be revised downward.
According to TrendForce research, due to lower-than-expected sales in 4Q21, the smartphone market in 1Q22 not only needed to adjust its accumulated inventory of finished products, but it was also affected by sluggish seasonal demand, resulting in relatively weak 1Q22 production performance. Coupled with the impact of recent events such as the Russian-Ukrainian war and lockdowns of Chinese cities, overall production performance in 1H22 will weaken, affecting total production in 2022. The original forecast of 1.38 billion units produced will be downgraded to 1.366 billion units, with annual growth rate slipping to 2.5%. Neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor the shortage of wafer production capacity has been significantly alleviated. This coupled with serious issues involving geopolitics, inflation, and energy shortages this year will generate variables in the smartphone market for 2022. Therefore, further downward revision of total 2022 production volume cannot be ruled out.
There are two key observations regarding the impact of the war on the smartphone market. First, brand sales have been suspended or have dropped sharply. According to TrendForce statistics, mobile phone sales in Russia and Ukraine account for approximately 3-4% of global market share, 85% of which are in the Russian market, with Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple as the top three Russian mobile phone brands. Since Apple and Samsung announced the suspension of all exports to Russia, vacated market share will migrate to Chinese brands. If the war can be brought under control before the end of April, estimated impact on the smartphone market in 2022 will be approximately 20 million units.
Second, the war has exacerbated global inflation, which is strongly affecting energy and food prices in particular and is rapidly spreading from Europe to the world. This also implies that personal disposable income will shrink simultaneously, resulting in a prolonged replacement cycle in the smartphone market and phenomena such as falling budgets for stand-alone purchases. Due to inflation’s broad and profound influence, it is not yet possible to determine the extent of its impact on the global smartphone market but there is indeed a high risk of downward revisions in the future.
It should be noted, in addition to the war, the pandemic will continue to affect smartphone market trends in 2022. China, the world’s largest smartphone consumer market, is still adopting a dynamic zero-COVID policy. Not only will this policy exacerbate manpower and material shortages in the intricate smartphone supply chain, pandemic prevention activities will also throw cold water on demand. TrendForce believes, given China’s short-term economic growth rate, the current forecast for China’s smartphone market shipments will drop from approximately 325 million units last year to 300 million units, representing an annual decline of approximately 7.7%, and a possibility of a continued downturn.
Global smartphone production came to 356 million units for 2021, showing a QoQ increase of 9.5%, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The second half of last year saw demand injections related to the peak promotion season for e-commerce platforms and year-end holiday sales. These factors thus bolstered smartphone production and resulted in 4Q21 seeing the highest QoQ growth rate for the year. Apple’s new iPhones were the primary growth driver. On the other hand, the performances of a few smartphone brands were constrained by the shortage of some key components. Hence, the total smartphone production for 4Q21 was slightly lower compared with 4Q20 or even 4Q19.
Apple took production leadership in 4Q21 with record high of 85.5 million units
After unveiling the iPhone 13 series in September, Apple started aggressively ramping up the shipments of these new devices to meet market demand. Owing to its fast-paced sales and marketing rhythms, Apple has been able to take first place in the quarterly ranking of smartphone brands by production market hare for many fourth quarters, and 4Q21 was no exception. Besides maintaining its top position in the fourth-quarter brand ranking, Apple raised its quarterly iPhone production to a new record high of 85.5 million units, a 66.0% QoQ increase. In the aspect of pricing strategy, the prices of the new iPhone 13 models were reasonable for consumers, while the price reductions for the older iPhone models were noticeable as well. Moreover, the capturing of the market share left by Huawei can be considered as the main factor behind Apple’s stellar performance in 4Q21. Over time, the orders for Huawei’s flagship models (i.e., the P and Mate series) have been gradually replaced by iPhone orders. In terms of annual production, Apple reached 233 million units for 2021, up from almost 200 million units for 2020. The growth was mainly attributed to an expansion of Apple’s market share in China from 10% to 16%. Samsung took second place in the global brand ranking for 4Q21 with 71 million units, a 2.9% QoQ increase. In 2Q21, the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks in Vietnam affected smartphone production facilities in the country and lowered Samsung’s capacity utilization rate. But apart from that quarter, Samsung’s performance remained stable for the other three quarters of last year. For the ranking of smartphone brands by annual production, Samsung was still the leader for 2021 with 275 million units.
OPPO (including Realme and OnePlus) took third place in the ranking with a quarterly production of 48 million units, a 5.9% QoQ decrease, for 4Q21. Xiaomi (including Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark) took fourth place with a production of 45.5 million units, a 2.2% QoQ increase. Fifth-ranked Vivo (including iQoo), on the other hand, reduced its smartphone production by 11.8% QoQ to 30 million units. As these three Chinese brands’ target markets and product strategies show significant overlap, their control of key components that are currently in shortage will have a direct impact on their production volumes going forward. It should also be pointed out that Honor, which was spun off from Huawei in early 2021 and underwent a period of corporate restructuring and component procurement in 1H21, experienced a meteoric rise in 2H21. Much like other Chinese brands, Honor adopts a sales strategy that primarily focuses on the Chinese market, meaning Honor’s smartphone business will continue to affect OPPO, Xiaomi, and Vivo, all of which place a top priority on domestic sales.
Annual smartphone production for 2022 will likely reach 1.381 billion units despite potential decline
Assuming that the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to slow, TrendForce expects annual smartphone production for 2022 to undergo a slight YoY increase of 3.6% to 1.381 billion units. Not only is smartphone demand expected to decline in China, which represents the largest consumer market in the world, but other markets will also exhibit only limited growth. Hence, the leading growth drivers will come from both cyclical replacement demand and new demand from emerging markets. Notably, in addition to factors such as foundry capacity allocation, global inflation, and energy shortage, whether an economic recovery will bring about positive change for the smartphone market will continue to influence the overall performance of the industry. TrendForce therefore believes that the annual smartphone production for 2022 may still face potential downside risks.
Regardless, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine has generated a host of issues including exchange rates, inflation, and logistics problems that affect smartphone sales in Eastern Europe. With regards to the market share of smartphone brands in Russia and Ukraine last year, the top three brands by sales included Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple, with a combined 45 million units sold, accounting for 3% of the global total. Preliminary assessments indicate that the ongoing war will not have a drastic effect on smartphone production for 2022, though TrendForce also does not rule out the possibility that the resultant global economic problems may affect overall smartphone demand.