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Smartphone Sales See First Year-Over-Year Gain in 27 Months

The smartphone industry has recorded its first month of year-over-year (YoY) growth in 27 months.

Global monthly smartphone sell-through volumes grew by 5% YoY in October, global research firm Counterpoint Research said in a Wednesday (Nov. 22) press release.

The last time the smartphone industry saw a YoY gain was in June 2021, according to the release.

“Global smartphone sales have been under stress for the last two years due to factors including component shortages, inventory build-up and lengthening of replacement cycles,” Counterpoint Research said in the release. “These issues have been compounded by an uncertain macroeconomic environment.”

In another milestone, the number of smartphone sales recorded in October was the highest since January 2022, per the release.

The company attributed the turnaround in October to a surge of smartphone sales in emerging markets. There has been a continuous recovery of the market in the Middle East and Africa, a comeback of Huawei in China and the onset of the festive season in India, the release said.

“Developed markets with relatively higher smartphone saturation have been slower to recover,” Counterpoint Research said in the release.

The late launch of the iPhone 15 series when compared to last year also contributed to the YoY growth seen in October. That delay meant that the full impact of new iPhone sales was felt during that month, per the release.

Looking ahead, Counterpoint Research expects the smartphone market to see continued YoY growth throughout the fourth quarter, followed by “a path to gradual recovery” in 2024.

That would be a reversal from the fourth quarter of 2022, when worldwide smartphone shipments dropped 18.3% YoY, market research firm IDC reported in January.

That was the largest drop ever in a single quarter, and it was driven by consumers growing more cautious in their spending, IDC said at the time. Weakened demand and high inventory caused vendors to cut back on shipments. In addition, heavy sales and promotions around the holidays helped exhaust inventories rather than fuel new shipments, in part because Apple had to deal with supply chain pressures caused by China’s COVID lockdowns.