Not Even Qualcomm Thinks People Are Going to Buy Smartphones Right Now

Shattered Phone

Even Qualcomm, the company that makes the near-ubiquitous Snapdragon brand of smartphone chips, doesn’t think many people are going to be buying smartphones — at least not in the first half of 2023.

In its Q1 2023 earnings call yesterday, the company sees what it describes as a “broadening demanded weakness” of mobile devices and doesn’t expect manufacturers will be shipping very many phones in the second or third fiscal quarters (which extends through June 2023) because none of them think that end consumers are going to be buying them, The Verge reports.

This follows information published by the International Data Corporation (IDC) last month that found that smartphone shipments had dropped nearly 20% compared to the same period of time last year. Additionally, it pointed out that the 18.3% year-over-year (YOY) drop was poised to put a damper on the prospects of economic recovery.

Apple, which experienced the smallest drop, still saw a 14.9% YOY drop. Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi suffered the worst decline at 26.3% YOY. Samsung, which has the second-highest market share after Apple, dropped 15.6%.

While Qualcomm typically doesn’t do most of its business in the next quarter, since most smartphone sales take place in the fall and winter, and expects to be flat going into the end of the year, and believes it is possible things might “normalize” at that point.

The economic environment for smartphones outlined by both Qualcomm and the IDC does not paint a particularly rosy picture for either Samsung or Vivo, both of which announced new flagship smartphones this week. Samsung held a big event in San Francisco for the launch of its Galaxy S23 devices, including a new Galaxy S23 Ultra that features its latest 200-megapixel camera sensor.

Vivo today announced the X90 series smartphones that were designed in collaboration with Zeiss and are shipping them globally this week.

If predictions hold true, it’s unlikely that either company will see a particularly large sales period for their devices in the first half of 2023, and Samsung, in particular, may find it difficult to make up the previously noted drop in sales. On the other end of the spectrum, if sales recover by mid-year as Qualcomm hopes, Apple will be in a prime position to move its new devices this fall, which are expected to feature its first-ever periscope lens system. This morning, Apple revealed that it has reached two billion currently active devices in the market.

Image credits: Header photo by Ashkan Forouzani.