Nearly 500 smartphone brands have left the market since 2017


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In brief: How many smartphone brands do you think have left the market since 2017? The likes of LG probably come to mind, then there are the many local, lesser-known brands. Maybe fifty, or one hundred? The actual figure is, astoundingly, nearly 500.

Counterpoint Research's analysis shows that at its peak in 2017, there were more than 700 smartphone brands contributing to the 1.5 billion units sold annually. In 2023, that number is down by a third to almost 250.

Nearly all of those brands that have shuttered over the last five years were local ones found in locations such as India, the Middle East, Africa, China, Japan, and South Korea. The number of global brands such as Samsung has remained consistent at over 30.

Counterpoint Research highlights several reasons behind the shrinking number of brands over the last seven years. The pandemic and component shortages that began in 2020 had a massive impact, while the global economic slowdown following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has caused many smaller smartphone companies to shutter.

The local brands have also been dealing with other factors killing off their businesses. More people are holding onto their devices for longer before upgrading, cheaper phones are improving in quality all the time, there's a maturing user base, we've seen technology transitions such as that from 4G to 5G, and a handful of big brands are holding on to more of the market.

Another area having an impact is refurbished phones. Refurbed smartphone sales grew 14% in 2021 compared to 5% for new phone sales. The difference was even more pronounced in 2022: 5% growth for refurbs and -12% negative growth for new handsets.

One of the biggest casualties in the smartphone market in recent times has been LG. After six years of losing money, totaling almost $4.5 billion, the writing was on the wall for the company's smartphone division in 2021. It quit the industry two years ago, taking with it some of the most innovative, if not always successful, handsets of recent times.

Counterpoint expects more smartphone brands to dissolve as time goes on, putting extra power into the hands of the tech giants. However, smaller brands may be able to survive by offering something unique, such as Doro, which targets older users, and Fairphone, which focuses on ethical sourcing and easy repairs.

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Not surprised at all. the 3 big group from China (Xiaomi, BBK, Transsion) have demolished all the smaller players in the developing region. honestly where I live now, it's either phones from these group or Samsung. Sony and Google didn't even try. Even huawei has practically gave up selling phones and just focuses on wearables now.

but you know what else killed these off-brand phones? it's the hardware support. first off we have providers which use whitelist system, so you can't easily buy some offbrand phone from china, put a simcard in and use it. had to register the phone and there's no 100% guarantee it'll work perfectly. where I live we have similar restriction which discouraged me from buying weird phones from china (with thermal camera, laser etc)

secondly people tend to drop and damage their phone. when you have an iphone or common samsung you can easily get a screen or battery replacement within the hour. if you have an offbrand phone, well good luck finding a replacement locally. in these days who can live without their phone for a week? my guess is that they'll just buy a new phone and discard the offbrand phone.

to be honest I don't like this. we need more choices, not less. it's not iOS vs Android anymore it's almost Apple vs Samsung now in many part of the world. Oh yeah and I have no beef with the chinese phones, but the good stuff are always sold in China only. I don't know whether they don't want to be the next Huawei or not, but if you look at the greatest Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo etc most likely they're not for sale outside China.
I loved LG's modular G5 and so simple to replace tha battery (and even the screen if required). Ended up picking up the Camera plus and B&O DAC for very cheap towards it's EOL. The DAC still works as a stand alone unit (micro USB to 3.5mm Jack). Phones these days are all much of a muchness.
Can't think of a thing to add other than my Motorola from 5 years ago is still chugging along strong, has a great camera and they are still updating it .....
So, 'TBH' is still a norm? using that force ppl to check where you aren't that honest
Never would have thought there was that many smartphone brands, granted, the market I'm in doesn't exactly encourage the likes of anything other than the few big brands that have been around forever.

I will miss LG, still have a G9, formerly a G6 and before that a G3.
Unpopular opinion: 500 is WAY too many companies. Even 250 is way too many. How many brands do you really need? 99% of these are going to be doing nothing but release throw away handsets.