Apple is gaining momentum again. According to the latest data released by Canalys, the Cupertino-based company has shipped the most smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“Apple is back at the top of the smartphone market after three quarters, driven by a stellar performance from the iPhone 13,” said Canalys Analyst Sanyam Chaurasia. “Apple saw unprecedented iPhone performance in Mainland China, with aggressive pricing for its flagship devices keeping the value proposition strong. Apple’s supply chain is starting to recover, but it was still forced to cut production in Q4 amid shortages of key components and could not make enough iPhones to meet demand. In prioritized markets, it maintained adequate delivery times, but in some markets, its customers had to wait to get their hands on the latest iPhones.”
If you remember, the company landed in second place a quarter earlier. But in the past quarter, it outrun Samsung to secure the #1 spot. As you understand, all credits go to the strong performance of the iPhone 13 series.
Even analysts from Canalys were surprised by the “unprecedented” iPhone shipments in China. And though Apple’s supply chain is recovering, it still faces some problems related to the demand. That’s why Apple has had to prioritize some markets over others.
“Supply chain disruption affected low-end vendors the most,” said Canalys VP Mobility Nicole Peng. “Component manufacturers are eking out additional production, but it will take years for major foundries to significantly increase chip capacity. Smartphone brands are already innovating to make the most of their circumstances, tweaking device specs in response to available materials, approaching emerging chipmakers to secure new sources for ICs, focusing product lines on the best-selling models, and staggering new product releases. These practices lend an advantage to larger brands, and they are set to stay for the short term, as bottlenecks will not ease until the second half of 2022.”
However, this is a global problem. And Apple is not the only smartphone maker that is struggling with supply. Not only Canalys but many other research firms and IT companies warn that the major foundries will take years to expand their chip production capacity. This is one of the main reasons why many smartphone vendors are looking for new suppliers or completely changing them.
Interestingly, Samsung has been keeping the title of the leader in Q1, Q2, and Q3. But in the last quarter of 2021, it failed and dropped to second place. Anyway, the gap between these two is not too large. On the other hand, this is logical. We mean Samsung launches its flagship S series in the first quarter, while Apple does this in September or November.
As for numbers, in Q4 2020 Apple and Samsung got 23% and 17% of the market, respectively. This year, in Q4, the numbers were 22% and 20%. Xiaomi, Oppo, and VIVO didn’t see many changes in comparison to the previous year.