COUNTERPOINT: Nearly 500 Smartphone Brands Have Disappeared in the Market in the Past 6 Years

We didn’t even know there were that many.

LG Velvet | LG is the first major smartphone brand to quit the business | Image Courtesy of LG

When the iPhone first launched, the idea of using a touchscreen cellphone was all the rage. Almost every person in your neighborhood had a smartphone brand. There were many local brands from different countries, like here in the Philippines we have Cherry Mobile, Torque, Star Mobile, O Plus (not to be confused with OnePlus), and Cloudfone. There were also several international brands like LG, Nokia Lumia, Blackberry, TCL, ASUS, and so on. In 2017, there were over 700 mobile brands active globally. We were not aware that it was that many.

However, we also noticed that many local smartphone brands have disappeared in the market. Even Cherry Mobile is in the verge of giving up since they shifted their focus from smartphones to AIoT devices due to a stiff competition from affordable Chinese brands. Companies like LG and HTC are now just history, too. With the former had already given up in the smartphone race entirely.

As per a report from Counterpoint in their Global Handset Model Sales Tracker, there are only about two-thirds of smartphone brands that have reported their shipping volume numbers since the smartphone market peaked around 2016-2017. From there, the market had matured and users’ standards have started to change. Choosing to instead get a premium experience at an affordable price, including longer Android upgrades, better components, and the ability to sell online. As of 2023, only about 250 smartphone brands are active.

The main issue with local smartphone brands is that they could not compete with the giants. They have fewer resources for research and development, marketing campaigns, and manufacturing capabilities. Many of these brands also rely on Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) which limits their ability to innovate and add features that could make them stand out from the market.

Counterpoint also noted that rising Chinese brands like Tecno, Infinix, and Xiaomi have contributed greatly to the decline of local brands. These brands managed to offer value-for-money phones that customers truly appreciate, in which many of these local brands once dominated but now have been skewed.

Not only that, but the COVID-19 Pandemic have hurt these brands significantly. With a slower global production and a declining economy, they couldn’t compete with large brands that could survive these scenarios well, even if it was unprecedented.

Local smartphone brands will only decline for the years to come. It’s been a while since we heard anything from Cherry Mobile, or reviews from a local smartphone brand like Firefly. Also, Starmobile has changed its identity completely. It now is a digital wallet.

Source: Counterpoint Research