Around 500 Smartphone Brands Have Disappeared Since 2017
In 2017, at the height of its expansion, the global smartphone market featured over 700 fiercely competing brands. By 2023, the number of active smartphone manufacturers with confirmed sales volumes has dwindled by two-thirds, to nearly 250, according to analytical firm Counterpoint, which tracks smartphone sales in more than 70 countries.
A growing user base, improving device quality, longer replacement cycles, economic barriers, supply chain bottlenecks, and major technological transitions, such as the shift from 4G to 5G, have gradually reduced the number of active smartphone brands over the years. Many local smartphone manufacturers, such as Micromax in India and Symphony in Bangladesh, have lost significant market share or even exited the market over the past five years.
The reduction in the number of smartphone manufacturers is primarily due to local brands, while the number of global companies remains stable. Local brands maintain sales only in the niche of affordable devices in regions with fragmented markets, such as the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.
In the rapidly evolving smartphone industry, small companies are unable to invest in research and development, production, and scaling. Additionally, most small brands lack the resources for large-scale global product launches and extensive advertising and marketing campaigns involving sports and movie celebrities.
Local manufacturers were able to benefit from the market’s transition from 2G to 3G/4G due to the rapid development of mobile networks and almost feverish demand, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, since then, the needs of the average mobile phone user have changed, and the user base has matured, shifting demand towards better features and stylish design. Brand recognition and the presence of a developed ecosystem have become the determining factors for consumers.
The rapid growth and market expansion of Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have also contributed to the decline of smaller brands. Chinese companies have introduced a wide range of quality smartphones at aggressive prices, providing customers with the best value for their money.
The COVID-19 pandemic, component shortages, and the ongoing global economic downturn have exacerbated issues in the smartphone market, primarily affecting relatively small local manufacturers. In contrast, large global brands found it considerably easier to maintain profitability under such market conditions.
In the future, the number of smartphone manufacturers will continue to shrink as large global brands are better adapted to all macroeconomic obstacles and technological transitions. The substantial investments made by major brands in research, development, logistics, and marketing have become key factors driving the trend of market consolidation.
- I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.
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