You might think that coming out of a pandemic with people out and about once again would push the demand for smartphones to climb, but it seems the opposite is true, as sales could be down 10% or more this year.
That’s according to Qualcomm, which in its latest earnings release – as spotted by The Verge – predicted that there could be a “low double-digit percentage decline” in handset volume this year, compared to last year. That’s a bigger drop than expected, with the company revising a previous estimate it made of a mid-single-digit percentage decline.
So why the lack of demand? Qualcomm points to the uncertain economic environment, which makes sense – smartphones tend to be expensive, and new ones might not be top of people's shopping lists, when money is a worry.
Interestingly, Qualcomm’s report also claims that due to a “rapid deterioration in demand” coupled with the “easing of supply constraints” in the semiconductor industry (which had previously been slowing down the production of smartphones), some companies now have a large inventory of phones that they’re struggling to shift.
Qualcomm didn’t name specific companies, but The Verge notes that both Samsung and Apple are likely to be among them, as earlier reports suggested Samsung had a huge number of handsets in stock, while Apple has reportedly ditched plans to increase production of the iPhone 14 line.
Analysis: Black Friday phone deals could be better than usual this year
If Qualcomm’s claims and predictions are accurate – which they likely are, since the company provides components for a huge selection of smartphones, so would know what’s going on in the industry – then a lot of companies might have stock they’ll be eager to shift.
Indeed, Qualcomm’s report even notes that there’s “roughly 8-10 weeks of elevated inventory,” so things might not stabilize until 2023.
All of which means companies might be inclined to drop prices on phones to help shift them over the next month or two, and that timing lines up nicely with Black Friday, which this year falls on November 25.
So it’s likely that we’ll see some eye-catching deals on smartphones both on Black Friday itself and the days surrounding it, including Cyber Monday on November 28, as these are prime opportunities for smartphone makers to increase their sales.
Plus, the whole reported reason for the lack of demand is that money is tight and costs are soaring for a lot of people, so reduced prices are likely to be all the more important and appealing to buyers, as well as sellers. As such, we’d strongly suggest keeping an eye out for the best Black Friday phone deals this year, with offers already starting to crop up.
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James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.