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Global smartphone market set to rebound in 2024, report says

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Global smartphone shipments are expected to rebound 3 per cent this year as easing inflation aids a demand recovery in emerging markets and the integration of generative AI attracts buyers to premium devices, a report by Counterpoint Research said this week.

Global shipments had declined more than 4 per cent last year, earlier data from the research firm showed, as consumers tightened their purse strings in an uncertain economy.

Emerging markets such as India, the Middle East and Africa are seen to be major growth drivers for the smartphone market, especially the budget-economy segment.

The budget segment, expected to grow 11 per cent in 2024 after shrinking in 2023, will also see increasing demand in the Caribbean and Latin American regions.

The segment, consisting of phones priced between $150 and $249, is set to benefit from easing inflation in regions such as Africa and stabilization of local currencies, Counterpoint said.

Increased competition between Chinese companies such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi (1810.HK), along with a recovery in demand for IT devices, also aided growth in the segment.

The premium segment, with phones priced between $600 and $799, is expected to grow 17 per cent. The introduction of much-coveted genAI technology and the popularity of foldables will stimulate demand for this segment, the report said.

Apple (AAPL.O) and Chinese rival Huawei are likely to emerge as winners in the premium market, it said.

Steady demand for iPhones, particularly in emerging markets, is set to benefit Apple, while Huawei is expected to retain its strong presence in China, especially with the release of its 5G Kirin chipset, the report stated.

Competition from Huawei led to a 24 per cent decline in iPhone sales in China in the first six weeks of 2024, Counterpoint had estimated earlier.

Separately, Apple is in talks to build Google’s Gemini AI engine into the iPhone, according to media reports from earlier in March.

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