Apple regains second place slot from Xiaomi in Q3 2021

The smartphone market has been in a bit of flux in the past year and a half. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, Huawei's exodus from the world's top five vendors has caused a shift in the grand order of things. The industry is now facing another major disruption that could last it well into 2022, but, at least based on one market analyst's figures, Apple has been able to take advantage of the situation and regain its place as the world's second-biggest smartphone maker.

The global smartphone market declined by 6% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. That probably shouldn't come as much as a surprise considering the events of the past 12 months. Demand for smartphones may have finally slowed down by now, even while demand for PCs continues to rise, even if more slowly.

And then there's the issue of supplying enough smartphones to the market. According to Canalys, the "chipset famine" has arrived, forcing both semiconductor manufacturers and phone makers to scramble to minimize losses and increased costs. Foundries are even raising prices in order to discourage the practice of over-ordering chips just to get priority on the production lines. Meanwhile, smartphone vendors are also making last-minute adjustments to their order quantities and even their device specs, adding to the chaos.

Despite and in spite of all that, Apple was the clear winner in the last three months that ended in September 2021. While its growth from 12% to 15% looks small, it was enough to push Xiaomi back down to third place after seeing no growth for its 14% share of the market pie. Samsung also remained at 23% in year-on-year growth, while both vivo and OPPO stepped up a bit by 1%.

Unfortunately, the market analysis company doesn't have encouraging words for the smartphone industry, predicting a shortage that will last well into 2022. The uncertainty in supply and demand is even causing manufacturers, vendors, and retail channels to look toward the upcoming sales holidays with nervousness rather than the excited anticipation they usually have each year.