Apple and Samsung Lost Market Share as Global Smartphone Sales Fell in Q3


Key Takeaways

  • Apple and Samsung lost market share to competing brands as overall global smartphone sales fell 8% from a year earlier to their lowest Q3 levels in a decade.
  • The decline comes amid a slow economic recovery affecting consumer demand, though a long string of year-over-year sales declines is expected to be broken in Q4, thanks in part to sales of the iPhone 15, research firm Counterpoint said.
  • Brands outside of the top five saw an increase in market share in the third quarter compared to recent years, which Counterpoint said is indicative of “the shifting dynamics and opportunities in the global smartphone market.”

Global sales of smartphones fell 8% in the third quarter from a year earlier amid a “slower-than-expected recovery in consumer demand,” with both Apple (AAPL) and Samsung losing market share to competing brands during the period, according to Counterpoint Research.

The July-September sales figure represented the lowest third-quarter level in a decade, the technology market research firm said, noting that year-over-year global smartphone sales have now fallen for nine consecutive quarters.

However, Counterpoint expects that trend of declines to come to a “halt” in the fourth quarter, as sales benefit from the full impact of the recently launched iPhone 15, the festival season in India, the 11.11 Singles’ Day holiday in China, Christmas, and end-of-year promotions later in the quarter. Counterpoint noted that third-quarter sales were up from the second quarter and that a good performance in September despite the limited availability of the new iPhones provides reason for optimism.

Global market leader Samsung saw its share of the global smartphone market drop to 20% in the third quarter from 21% a year earlier, as sales fell 13%. Apple’s share of the global smartphone market also fell 1 percentage point, to 16%, as its sales declined 9%.

The top five global brands — which also include Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo — made up a combined 64% of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2023, down from about 68% in 2022 and 2021, according to Counterpoint’s data. The Chinese companies recorded even steeper smartphone sales declines than Samsung and Apple as they “worked towards strengthening their positions in key markets like China and India while continuing to slow down expansionary efforts in overseas markets,” the report noted. 

Outside of the top five, Chinese manufacturers HONOR, Huawei, and Transsion Group all gained market share and saw their year-over-year third-quarter sales increase, the Counterpoint report said. According to the research firm, “the recovery of emerging markets before the global market and the growth of brands outside of the top five indicate the shifting dynamics and opportunities in the global smartphone market.”

Despite the expected sales recovery for the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter, overall full-year sales for 2023 could hit their lowest level in a decade, Counterpoint said, citing shifting replacement patterns in developing markets.

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