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US smartphone market to grow 2% YoY in 2022

The US smartphone market will experience 2% YoY growth in 2022, according to Counterpoint’s Market Outlook Service. The latest forecast has been revised downwards from the previous forecast of 6% YoY growth in 2022, as demand will be suppressed in the remaining quarters due to inflationary pressures.

USA Smartphone Forecast 2022

Commenting on the forecast and consumer demand, Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said, “We began the year with strong sell-in momentum, with Q1 2022 seeing 6% YoY growth due to solid postpaid demand. However, we are adjusting our shipment forecast numbers downwards as we are increasingly seeing the impact of inflation in the US market. Last year, we saw supply as a much bigger issue as chipset shortages impacted smartphone manufacturing. However, this year, it is more of a demand issue. Americans have changed their purchasing patterns — instead of tech products, they are spending more on experiences like travel and going out. In addition, as fuel prices go up due to inflation, people are making fewer trips to retailers and are adjusting their purchasing behavior even further. Baskets of goods have become costlier due to increased supply chain costs related to transportation.”

Commenting on channel dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Maurice Klaehne said, “Prepaid sales will be most affected by weak demand as this is the most price-sensitive segment in the US. This is also where any price increases for devices will be most heavily felt by consumers. We see national retailers feeling the impact of inflation, but it is more of a mixed bag. Walmart, a one-stop shop for groceries, tech products and much more, may be less impacted compared to Best-Buy, which is a very specialized tech retail store. Consumers will shop where it makes the most sense for them to get as much done as possible. Postpaid, on the other hand, is more insulated. Even with Verizon and AT&T raising service plan costs, we don’t expect there to be a strong shift from postpaid to prepaid. In April, consumer demand for postpaid devices remained strong due to promotions. Verizon extended its offer of $800 off the iPhone 13 series to existing customers with qualifying trade-in and plan. It had previously only been available to new customers. AT&T and T-Mobile continued to offer strong trade-in promotions of their own. Additionally, the bundling of freebies like Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+ may be helping to keep customers from cutting their lines in favor of prepaid options.”

Research Analyst Matthew Orf added, “Despite the headwinds in prepaid, there are several scheduled industry events that will help low-end smartphone sales in 2022. 3G sunsets will force carriers to move subscribers onto new LTE and 5G devices. AT&T’s shutdown was scheduled for February 2022, with Sprint’s network following in March, T-Mobile in July, and Verizon in December 2022. Dish will also need to move millions of subscribers to its new MVNO partner AT&T. In addition, Verizon will attempt to move as many TracFone subscribers over to its network from AT&T and T-Mobile. All these events will require users to switch to new devices, mainly LTE, which will help maintain smartphone sales despite inflationary pressures.”

CT Bureau

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