What's New ?
1) Key Trends and Forecasts:
There are key overarching issues affecting both shipments of mobile devices and the associated supply chains for all product segments, which have impacted global markets, namely:
The ongoing effects of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
• Ongoing China-U.S. trade wars
• Chipset supply shortages
• War in Ukraine
• Macroeconomic uncertainties
The global economy is still suffering from the aftershock effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which from the outset caused mass disruption to production lines and supply chains, and it is still being felt by further lockdown measures being enforced in China. In addition, ongoing geopolitical trade wars and shortages of key components have suppressed growth in the consumer sector for the past 2 years, while markets have since deteriorated due to additional waves of disruption caused by the war in Ukraine, its impact on inflation rates, and the worsening global cost of living crisis. Such global risk factors, when combined, can suppress the rate of technological progress and 5G development, putting on hold promises of new consumer device advancements, features, innovation, and user experiences.
Moreover, inflationary pressures caused by prevailing economic conditions and the geopolitical environment have significantly influenced variables, such as raw material prices, wages, and interest rates, limiting consumer spending and decelerating demand for more discretionary purchase items, most notably consumer electronic goods. Ultimately, these issues have all combined to hit consumer confidence and make stakeholders more cautious, which has led to market uncertainties that are becoming a major impediment to the development of the devices ecosystem and vendor landscape. While market confidence is under such pressure, including the heightened risk of recession, it is proving difficult to forecast the speed at which future demand will recover in the short- and mid-term across regions, as well as for the many product types contained within the consumer devices sector.
Market pressure caused by macro uncertainties, geopolitical concerns, and supply issues persisted into 2H 2022 and beyond, but demand for some consumer devices is forecast to remain solid. Indeed, despite the adverse impact of these multiple factors being felt mostly by the smartphones market, it has been remarkably resilient since 2020, notably for the high-end and 5G devices on which the effect of supply chains has been relatively minimal. This has coincided with the availability of 5G smartphone models becoming more diverse, brought to market quickly at a wide variety of price points, accelerating affordability and adoption.
Changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic have had a direct impact on some device sectors, creating spikes in demand for items like tablets, notebooks, wearables, and accessories, due mainly to the increase in home working, remote learning, and online entertainment consumption. Moreover, consumers have become more attuned to their own health tracking and wellbeing during this period, driving market growth for smartwatches, sport and fitness bands, and other healthcare devices, aided, in turn, by advances in sensors, power management, wireless communication, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, demand for devices like tablets, laptops, and Chromebooks contracted in 2022. This was not only as a result of the hangover from pandemic lockdowns when consumers loaded up on such products, but also because these devices tend to be more discretionary, inflationary-sensitive purchases. There is also little to suggest what the replacement cycle is for such devices, but it is clearly nowhere near as fast as that for smartphones. Despite this expected continued decline, future demand (and replacement cycles) could be boosted by the launch of new notebook models and tablets that feature improvements in displays, weight, and functionality, providing richer user experiences.
For the smartphone market, while there was much to be optimistic about as countries finally emerged from the pandemic, the market has been suppressed by macroeconomic headwinds and inflationary pressures. It is the balance between the impact of these disrupters on the industry against gradually seeing supply chains, buyer behavior, and demand slowly return to some level of normalcy, led by 5G device affordability as a primary growth driver, which will determine any future growth. Moreover, the market’s speed of recovery and consumer sentiment will affect shipment growth, but could potentially be buoyed by consumers' eagerness to embrace new innovative mobile experiences and services, enhanced broadband speeds, leading-edge form factors (e.g., foldable devices), and greater processing power. However, the challenging headwinds and notable inventory corrections conspired to outweigh any growth potential in 2022, which tempered smartphone demand.
In response, ABI Research’s global smartphone shipments in 2022 and 2023 were adjusted downward from original estimates, in terms of both total market and 5G devices, with susceptibility to changes in the economic climate and geopolitical volatility reflected rationally in the revised data. The total smartphones market declined 9.6% YoY in 2022 to reach 1.207 billion units, while 5G smartphones grew 26% in 2022 to around 756 million, forming 62% of total smartphones. ABI Research anticipates that the market will see a 2.4% increase in smartphone shipments in 2023 as markets show some signs of recovery from current pressures.
Compared to the financial crisis of 2008, it is the mid-to-low smartphone tiers that have again been squeezed, related mainly to Android devices, while the premium and high end remained resilient, relatively unaffected by economic fluctuations. The release of new flagship products during the latter half of 2022, notably from Apple and Samsung, as well as high-end Android launches, mainly in China, helped redress the balance, particularly during the strong 4Q 2022 holiday season. This growth will be boosted further as the market continues its transition to 5G, notably in fledgling markets like India, and feature phones are replaced by smartphones. Moreover, there are signs that softened demand in some markets, such as China, will rebound into 2023, reinforcing a sustainable path to recovery as confidence returns.
From the supply side, these macro issues have had an impact on raw materials and the supply of major components, such as Systems-on-Chip (SoCs) and image sensors, which have also suffered due to weak seasonality and inventory adjustments. As a consequence of the pandemic, many companies have been forced to revisit their production strategies and supply chain management to minimize disruption, while also building up inventory. Indeed, many companies have been careful with inventory, as they attempt to navigate their way through the current market environment.
Under current, highly challenging market conditions, which have taken a massive toll on both demand and supply chain, it will take a few quarters moving into 2023 for markets to return to something resembling normalcy as consumer confidence makes its return and demand in the devices sector recovers. However, some countries and sectors could potentially face a much longer road back to economic recovery, while conventions and behaviors in the mobile devices ecosystem will inevitably be severely challenged in the longer term. Moreover, the effect of higher inflation and commodity prices is expected to lead to a decline in real disposable income and dampen consumption in the short term, while fundamental changes in consumer buying behavior may affect replacement cycles and levels of affordability. However, it will prove to be the strength of demand in the form of increasing economic growth and consumer confidence that will ultimately show that the market is responding and on the road to recovery.
2) Mobile Handsets/Phones = Feature Phones + Smartphones:
2.1) Overall Handsets Market
• Although global smartphone shipments dropped 9.6% YoY in 2022, the market is expected to see growth of 2.4%, in 2023 reaching shipments of 1.24 billion worldwide. Arguably, the market effects of the pandemic are now overshadowed by geopolitical trade wars, macroeconomic headwinds, inflationary pressures, and supply chain issues that are set to become a major impediment to the future development of the mobile devices market.
• Huawei has been a key market casualty from the fallout of the geopolitical wars as shipments have been dwindling and is expected to exit the smartphone market in 2023.
• LG dropped out of the smartphone market in 3Q 2021, citing enormous competitive pressures.
• Apple sales have beaten expectations in the past 2 years, buoyed by the introduction of 5G iPhones in 2020, which has also been boosted by its "super cycle" of users, and a 5G iPhone SE model in March 2022, which is a volume driver in the lower price tier segment.
• HONOR brand is filling in some of the demand left behind by Huawei, now including the high end, and has been effective at extending its portfolio into the high end.
• OPPO shipment growth is expected to outstrip the market as it moves successfully into areas outside China, notably Europe and the Middle East & Africa, while benefitting from Huawei's decline.
• Samsung has seen a see-sawing of its shipments from quarter to quarter over the past year, but is expected to keep relatively flat sales over the next 18 months as the comparative slump of its high-end models are balanced by continued success in the mid-range, including 5G models.
• vivo has both China and India remaining as critical markets for it, and the company has benefitted from the demise of Huawei, but it has also been hit by the slowdown in its home market in 2022.
• Xiaomi shipments are expected to continue owing to increasing share in key markets of India and China, as well as improving share rapidly in markets beyond Asia, notably in Latin America, Africa, and West Europe, which is due to its competitive pricing, mainly in 5G.
• "Others" in the high-end sector is held by premium models from Motorola (including foldable) and OnePlus. The mid-range is bolstered by growth of vendors, such as realme and the Transsion group (Itel, Infinix, and Tecno).
2.2) 5G Smartphones
• The 5G smartphone market is outperforming its predecessor generations on nearly every metric, becoming the most accelerated mobile technology generation ever. Its share of total smartphone shipments more than doubled from 20.7% in 2020 to 44.8% in 2021, driven by the availability of 5G models from all major brands across the price tiers. 5G’s share of total smartphone shipments hit 44.8% in 2021 and 62% in 2022.
• The impact of COVID-19 on 5G supply chains has been minimal with the availability of smartphone models becoming more diverse, brought to market quickly at a wide variety of price points, democratizing the 5G experience, accelerating 5G affordability and adoption.
• Many leading OEMs will continue pushing deeper into the lower-priced 5G smartphone segment, including Apple in 2022 with the launch of the 5G iPhone SE, which will become the main growth driver for accelerating adoption.
• 5G growth will be aided by the continuing availability of more affordable 5G chipsets, from companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, and UNISOC.
• The charge to 5G was initially led by the key markets of the United States, Japan, and South Korea, reflecting the market’s high-end profile, but it is the latter introduction of the China market at the end of 2019 that predominated in 2020 and 2021, boosting sales further.
• Most regions were far more aggressive regarding 5G in 2021 and the addition of large emerging markets, including India, before the end of 2022, helped create even greater demand for devices in the low-to-mid range that will accelerate further 5G affordability and adoption.
• The industry’s move toward the use of 5G New Radio (NR) Millimeter Wave (mmWave) technology had been challenging to be of practical use in mobile devices, mainly due to limited coverage and being overtly costly to implement. However, many of these technology barriers have been overcome and 5G mmWave is now a commercial reality in smartphones. The complexity of integrating mmWave has been addressed through the use of an evolved system approach and a fully integrated Radio Frequency (RF) module design, offering improved performance, latency, reliability, and efficiency.
• After a slow start, mainly limited to the U.S. market, ecosystem momentum for mobile mmWave is gathering pace as a number of regions are targeting deployments, expanding across North America, Europe, and Asia, led by operators in the countries of Japan, Russia, Italy, South Korea, China, and Australia. However, associated 5G mmWave smartphone sales have stalled, limited mainly to just the U.S. market and flagship smartphones, notably because of delays in mmWave network rollouts as COVID-19 pushed out operator/network rollouts more than expected, specifically in Asian countries.
• From 2022 onward, there is expected to be a spike in demand due to continued growth in more availability of 5G mmWave smartphone models, notably in Apple and Samsung portfolios, and rollout of mmWave networks in more regions. In addition, MediaTek added mmWave RFFE to its portfolio in 2022 to accompany its already-announced mmWave modem, which may help drive down price points further and potentially engage more Chinese smartphone vendors. This could grow volume substantially, moreso if mmWave does eventually roll out in China.
• The United States has been a leader in the race for mmWave deployments due to early access to mmWave spectrum. Expected that there would be some deployments In Europe, but only a small number of countries have assigned mmWave spectrum for the use of 5G. In Asia, the assumption was that as 5G grows in the region, devices from Samsung and possibly Apple (and others), notably in South Korea, Australia, and Japan, would start to carry mmWave, but this seems not yet to be the case. Growth in Latin America and the Middle East are expected to be minimal for the next few years, while there are no 5G mmWave smartphones expected to be sold in Africa until 2024 at the earliest.
• Even with indicators that mmWave is beginning to appear in greater numbers, now including Apple iPhone Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), and has matured enough to support ultra-thin foldable smartphone designs, it is not expected to account for more than 10% of total smartphone sales in 2023.
• An mmWave smartphone sales inflection point is expected by 2023 as it is forecast that, by this stage, mobile operators will need to extend their network capacity and performance beyond sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz), forcing many to turn to mmWave. From here, the market is to see a momentum swing to mmWave, beyond just North America, as it becomes the only option to increase 5G capacity and as a performance extension.
• Following the COVID-19-led spike in 2020 and 2021, the overall tablet market, in general, is expected to continue to experience slow decline due to returning typical trends of weakening demand, longer replacement cycles, and general market saturation.
• The media tablet shipments market fell 3% in 2022, and is expected to decline to 2028.
• Outside of current market trends caused by the impact of COVID-19, the tablet market overall has become very seasonal, notably for the branded media tablet sector.
• Apple remains the market leader, while other "branded" tablets, notably those from Samsung, Huawei, Amazon, and Lenovo, have also shown some shipment growth in 2022 due mostly to aggressive pricing, taking share from shipments of white-box tablet models.
• White-label tablet shipments will remain weak over the forecast period due to their typically smaller screen size than branded tablets, which are at greater risk of being cannibalized by large-screen smartphones and longer replacement cycles.
• The weak forecast demand for white-label tablets may see some manufacturers leave the market in the next few years.
• The majority of tablet sales are moving toward larger screen sizes (10 inches+), due to Apple’s launch of its lower-cost 10.2-inch display iPad and its command of market share in the sector.
• It is expected that a limited number of tablets will have foldable, flexible, or rollable displays at some point during the forecast period, allowing the devices to fold into a smaller form factor, while keeping the tablet’s features.
• Cellular connected tablets have only accounted for a small proportion of sales (<20%) due to their mostly nomadic use case and high price differential between “cellular” and “Wi-Fi-only” versions. The advent of 5G, notably in the iPad Pro, may improve this share if new 5G business models and more aggressive pricing can stimulate demand.
4) Mobile Broadband (MBB) Devices:
• The impact of COVID-19 has not been as keenly felt in the MBB sector as its counterparts due to its smaller market volume and relatively lower price tiers. Changing consumer behaviors will lead to the continuing need for additional broadband connections, notably in the home, stimulated by moves to home working, remote learning, and online gaming.
• Growth in MBB shipments are expected to continue following an initial spike in 2020 caused by the impact of COVID-19, but will plateau again from 2023.
• Greater emphasis on the MBB market is moving to WWAN routers and away from USB modems, especially as the market shifts to 5G connectivity and price points fall in the mid-term.
• The market for 3G/4G USB sticks will decline due to the substitution effect of WWAN routers, but will still show volume in the mid-to-long term.
• Average Selling Prices (ASPs) of wireless routers are expected to increase due to the addition of 5G and some models carrying more features and functionalities than just MBB connectivity, but ASPs will gradually fall as scale in the 5G supply chain rises.
• 5G is not expected to be used in USB in the short- to mid-term due to issues of the design challenge, unless the form factor is revitalized under 5G-Advanced features, notably Reduced Capability (RedCap) User Equipment (UE).
• Minimal or zero shipments of 2G, 3G-Only, or 4G-Only MBB devices expected from 2022.
• The chipset shortage had not overtly affected the MBB devices market substantially during the period 2021 to 2022.
• Forecasting MBB demand can be difficult due to undeterminable replacement cycles for enterprises and consumers.
• Notebook demand was boosted as COVID-19 led to imposed lockdowns forcing more remote working, online gaming, and learning from home, with shipments to enterprises and those of lower-cost Chromebooks increasing significantly.
• Although shipments were boosted 25% in 2021, it fell by 13% in 2022. The overall notebook market, in general, is a highly mature market that is in steady decline.
• The notebook ecosystem operates outside the mobile value chain with different OEMs, component procurements, apps developer community, and distribution channels.
• The emergence of 5G is now pushing the mobile industry and the notebook industry to converge more than ever before. Always-on connected 5G PCs and notebooks present a unique value proposition as it allows for a far improved user experience.
• For this convergence to happen, the industry will have to position 5G connectivity as a central feature in the design of 5G notebooks and PCs. Companies like Qualcomm, Intel, MediaTek, Samsung, and Huawei are all pursuing this strategy. These companies have been joined by Apple, which has ditched Intel for Arm-based processors in its MacBooks, which could pave the way to always-on computing by providing tight integration with its own 5G modems in the future, possibly by 2023.
• Partnerships, such as that between Intel and MediaTek, could also be crucial to the success of 5G notebook connectivity, paving the way to bring engineering, system integration, and connectivity expertise together to deliver enhanced, next-generation mobile compute experiences.
• Always-on connected PCs have been a challenge for the industry, but the emergence of 5G will see the portable computing and the mobile value chains converge to bring always-on broadband experiences on the move to new device types beyond smartphones, opening the door to new experiences.
• The market for 5G deployment in key consumer and commercial notebook segments will be heavily contested between traditional notebook OEMs like Dell, HP, and Lenovo, and mobile phone OEMs like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.
• It is expected that the key factors for large-scale deployments for these 5G devices will include:
- Time to market and pricing strategies
- An optimized balance between performance and device battery life through highly integrated designs centered around 5G connectivity
- The ability to distribute these devices across both consumer and enterprise channels
6) Major Model and Data Revisions and Changes
The mobile devices market dataset has gone through some fundamental changes that are designed to streamline the service, making it more focused and actionable, with particular regard to 5G. Specifically, the following changes have been implemented in this product and future editions:
• Removal of tables related to mature and outdated segmentations, namely by Operating System (OS), smartphone features, pricing, etc.
• Greater segmentation granularity of 5G devices, e.g., Standalone (SA) versus Non-Standalone (NSA), mmWave, and sub-6 GHz.
• Addition of datasets related to RFFE and modem markets, to include vendor shares in future editions.
7) General Changes to Current Edition:
The most prominent changes to this edition are:
• Addition of new chipsets historic data, showing silicon vendor market shares for chipsets used in global smartphone volume shipments, estimated by quarter, in the following segmentations:
- By chipset type
- Integrated modem-application processor
- Modem only
- Application processor only
- By technology
Other recently adopted changes include:
• Historical quarterly data in tables have been removed to show from 1Q 2020 only. However, data back to 2010 can be accessed through some of the pivot tables, dashboards and previously published products.
• All tables related to OSs have been deleted due to the maturity of the segmentation.
• All tables related to smartphone features and pricing have been removed.
• The introduction of a new “network technologies” group splits, creating more granular 5G segmentations, as follows:
- 2G/3G/4G Classic: 2G/3G/4G
- LTE-Advanced: 4G+
- LTE-Advanced Pro: 4G+
- 5G: 5G
- Sub-6 GHz
- Sub-6 GHz+mmWave
• Addition of 5G smartphones sheet, showing estimated historic quarterly 5G smartphone shipments globally by vendor and total by region.
• Addition of new dashboard and pivot table showing vendor 5G shipments.
• Addition of new RFFE components sheet, given use of various component by smartphones in technology groups:
- RF transceiver
- Envelope tracker
- Power amplifiers
- Antenna tuners
- Antenna diversity switch
- Antenna switch
- End-to-end solution
• New MBB forecasts by device type by technology standard
• New Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) device shipments data added
- FWA historical data by vendor share from 1H 2018
- FWA forecasts by region
- FWA forecasts by network technology
• Addition of realme as a discrete vendor, with data included from 1Q 2022 for all handsets, smartphones, and 5G smartphone vendor sheets.
• Main historic shipments data are updated quarterly.
• 1Q 2023 historical shipments have been added to tables and pivot data for mobile phones and smartphones by vendor and by region.
• Forecasts for 2023 and beyond have been reviewed and downgraded due to the still ongoing impact on the market caused by COVID-19, consequences of the U.S.-China trade war, the macroeconomic climate, and chipset supply shortages.
• 5G shipments growth was higher than expected in 2022, and the market increased thereafter for data points from 2023 to 2025.
• New table added showing 5G smartphone shipments share of total by vendor.
• 5G mmWave data lower than expected in 2022 and forecasts downgraded due to the lack of smartphone availability and limited network rollouts beyond North America.
• Forecasts have been updated and now include through to 2028.
• Main historic shipments data are updated quarterly.
• 1Q 2023 historical shipments have been added to tables and pivot data for branded tablets.
• Forecasts have been updated from 2023 and reviewed due to market potential based on "actual" sales reported in 2022.
• Forecast now include through to 2028 for both branded tablets and white label devices.
MBB, FWA and Connected Notebooks:
• Main historic MBB shipments data are updated half-yearly.
• To better reflect the ongoing changes in the MBB market, data coverage has been altered as follows:
- A change has been made to the companies selected for vendor share analysis.
- Readjustment of market shipments from USB modems to mobile hotspot routers.
- 5G has been added as a line item for shipments by network technologies.
• Historical MBB data has been updated for 2H 2022.
• MBB forecasts have been reviewed due to the impact on the market caused by COVID-19, and now include through 2028.
• Additional tables giving shipments by technology standard, by MBB device type.
• FWA device shipments added as a new device segment by vendor share, region, and network technology.
• Notebook quarterly shipments by major vendors have been updated to 4Q 2022, with estimates of Chromebook share provided.
• 5G has been added as a line item for connected notebook shipments by network technologies, and revised downward in light of expected sales.
• Major update to notebooks by air interface reflecting expected growth in 5G mobile compute platforms, underpinned by chipset availability, which is expected to grow from 2023.
8) Further Reading
• 5G-Advanced Consumer Devices Forecasts (MD-5GADEV-102, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-5GADEV/), 2Q 2023
• Mobile Accessories and Wearables Market Share and Forecasts (MD-WEAR-108, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-WEAR/), 14Q 2023
• Future 5G Mobile Devices: Reported Features and Functionality (PT-2597, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/7781916-future-5g-mobile-devices-reported-features/), 1Q 2023
• Emergent Mobile Device Technology Tracker (MD-MDET-171, https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/market-data/MD-MDET/), 4Q 2022