Component shortages have wreaked havoc on the tech industry since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and smartphones are no outlier. Delayed production schedules have given way to smaller inventories and delayed launches. All of this has resulted in a drop in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the third quarter of 2020, Gartner reported today.
According to figures released by the research firm today, sales to consumers fell by 6.8 percent. A shortage of parts such as integrated circuits for power management and radio frequency has hurt smartphone production worldwide.
“Despite strong consumer demand, smartphone sales declined due to delayed product launches, a longer delivery schedule and insufficient inventory at the channel,” Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner, said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
The analyst added that production schedules for “basic and utility” phones were more affected by supply constraints than “premium” phones. As a result, sales of premium smartphones actually increased during this period, although overall smartphone sales declined.
Samsung at the top
Still, shoppers had limited options, Gartner noted. Samsung eventually won the largest market share (20.2 percent), thanks to its foldable smartphones.
Apple’s quarterly market share (14.2 percent) was helped by new features in its iPhones, namely the A15 processor and improvements to battery life and the camera sensor. Gartner also pointed to interest in 5G.
Smartphones aren’t the only technology that still suffers from the component shortage. Analysts expect PCs to be hard to find during the holiday season due to supply chain issues. The US market is also reported to have declined in Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2020. And demand for Chromebooks has plummeted as people return to personal learning and working.
In May, Gartner predicted that the global chip crisis would end in the second quarter of 2022. But while devices are expected to become more readily available at that point, the research firm noted that “substrate capacity constraints could potentially extend” into Q4 2022.