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The Sales of Smartphones are Dropping, What's Wrong?

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By Jerry Walters - - 5 Mins Read
3 smartphones
Photo | Shutterstock

During the second quarter of 2023, smartphone sales in North America had a really bad time, going down a lot—22 percent, to be exact—compared to the same time last year.


This is part of a bigger trend, and experts think that smartphone sales for the whole year will drop by 12 percent, which is not great news.

Apple and Samsung Lead, Despite Declines

Apple is still in the lead, even though they sold fewer phones this time. They had a big drop of 20 percent in sales but are still the biggest, with 54 percent of the market.


An iPhone placed side by side with a Samsung phone
Apple iPhone and a Samsung | Shutterstock


Samsung, the second-biggest company, also sold fewer phones, with sales going down by a lot, 27 percent. They now have 24 percent of the market. Motorola didn't do much better, with a 25 percent drop in sales and only 8 percent of the market.


TCL, which primarily makes TVs and tried selling phones for a short time, had the worst time, with a 30 percent drop in sales and just 5 percent of the market.

Google Impressive Growth 

Despite this time of smartphone sales decline, there's some good news for Google. Even though Google isn't the top dog in the smartphone world, the number of Pixel phones it has sold went up by a whopping 59 percent.


This boosted Google's share of the market to 4 percent, and it's the second year in a row that Google's doing better in the smartphone business. If this trend keeps up, Google might become the fourth-biggest player in the market soon.

"Others" Category Takes a Hit

The most significant loss on the sales chart is attributed to the category labeled as "others," which experienced a staggering 43 percent decline. This category represents smaller Android manufacturers such as OnePlus and HMD/Nokia and budget-friendly vendors like Blu. Canalys attributes some of this decline to the shrinking demand for prepaid phones in the low-end market.


Interestingly, despite the overall downturn, Canalys points out that both Apple and Samsung managed to boost their shipments in the premium segment, with 25 percent and 23 percent growth, respectively, in Q2 2023. This growth is likely due to strong demand for premium devices with advanced features and unique designs. 


Premium Segment as a Beacon

While Apple continued to lead with the largest market share at 54 percent, its declining sales have raised concerns, shrinking by 20 percent annually. Samsung, holding the second-largest market share at 24 percent, also faced a substantial 27 percent decline.


Industry experts believe that smartphone vendors are now banking on the premium segment to navigate the uncertainties of the market. With the average selling price of North American smartphones increasing from $663 to $738 year over year, it is evident that premium phones are in demand while cheaper alternatives face challenges.

Hope on the Horizon

Smartphone sales by year have proven to be challenging for smartphone companies, with declines of 9 and, potentially, 12 percent, respectively. However, Canalys anticipates a modest recovery in 2024, projecting a 3 percent increase in sales.


Strategic Approaches Needed for Recovery

To recover from the current downturn, smartphone vendors will need to be strategic in their approach, especially in the mass-market segment, which is expected to have a longer road to recovery due to ongoing inflation affecting consumer budgets. Additionally, innovative approaches in retailer, carrier, and social media collaborations will be essential to convey brand and product messages in this slow year.


Furthermore, sustainability regulations are set to take effect in North America, emphasizing the right to repair and refurbish devices. This shift will create a new dynamic in the smartphone business model in the region. 

Wrapping up 

Smartphone sales in North America have faced a tough time, with a significant 22 percent drop in the second quarter of 2023, part of a larger trend predicting a 12 percent decline for the whole year. Apple and Samsung, the leaders in the market, also saw declines in sales, but Apple maintains its top spot with 54 percent market share, while Samsung holds 24 percent.


The bright spot in this challenging landscape is Google, whose Pixel phone sales surged by an impressive 59 percent, securing a 4 percent market share. This marks the second consecutive year of growth for Google in the smartphone market, raising the possibility of it becoming the fourth-largest player soon.


Although the past two years have been difficult, there's hope for a modest recovery in 2024. Smartphone vendors need strategic approaches, especially in the mass-market segment, and innovative collaborations to convey their messages effectively. Sustainability regulations will also reshape the smartphone business in North America.