According to preliminary figures from Counterpoint Research’s latest Global Smartphone Shipment Forecast, 2023 shipments are forecast to decline 6 per cent to 1.15 billion units, the lowest in a decade.

As per the findings, Asia is one of the major hurdles to positive growth, as headwinds halt the economic turnaround anticipated for China at the start of the year, and the broader region experiences intensifying declines across emerging markets. Meanwhile, North America continues to be a major drag on global recovery, with a disappointing 1H setting it up for double-digit full year declines. Despite strength in the jobs market and inflation falling, consumers are hesitant to upgrade their devices, pushing replacement rates for the US and globally to record highs.

Commenting on the report, Jeff Fieldhack, research director, North America Counterpoint, said, “There’s been a decoupling between what’s happening in the economy and consumers buying phones. So far this year it’s been record low upgrades across all carriers. But we are watching Q4 with interest because the iPhone 15 launch is a window for carriers to steal high-value customers. And with that big iPhone 12 installed base up for grabs promos are going to be aggressive, leaving Apple in a good spot.”

Meanwhie, Ethan Qi, associate director, China, Counterpoint Research, said, “Apple is well positioned as the premium segment continues to gain more share.”

According to Counterpoint, premium and ultra-premium growth is a trend that is happening globally and favours vendors like Apple which have portfolios heavily weighted in the higher segments. 2023 could mark the start of a new era for Apple as a resilient premium market and strong showing in the US could help it become number one globally in terms of annual shipments for the first time ever.

Further, Fieldhack added, “It is the closest Apple’s been to the top spot.  We are talking about a spread that is literally a few days’ worth of sales. Assuming Apple doesn’t run into production problems like it did last year, it is really a toss up at this point.”