The smartphone market highlights how companies are responding very differently to the economic slowdown. Samsung is adding features such as ‘foldables’. But Apple is building services business to provide annuity revenue for the future.
The downturn in the global smartphone market highlights the need for companies to focus on the Value segment and Services as the Middle Market disappears. iPhones are now 49% of the booming second-hand market, allowing Apple to gain more Services revenue via its App Store.
Either chemical markets are wrong or the financial markets are wrong, and obviously we think it’s the latter. People thought China was going to bounce back rapidly after Covid but China’s growth since 2008 was the product of massive stimulus and property speculation which couldn’t go on forever.
Cheap used phones priced at <$200 are now the only growth area in the smartphone market. Companies who just sell hardware are now set to be Losers as their profits tumble. Companies like Apple, with a strong brand and service offering, will be long-term Winners.
Now, we are all starting to suffer for the central banks mistake in adopting Bernanke Theory. The bubbles they created are finally starting to burst as interest rates return to more normal levels. This will be very painful for all those who trusted them to manage the economy.
Apple symbolises the major changes underway in the economy. Its stock price is in decline as central bank stimulus disappears. And its profits are threatened as pressure builds on its supply chain and pricing.
Since January, investors have begun to realise that the FAANG stocks were just as over-valued in December as during the dotcom bubble. Of course, hope springs eternal as we saw this month. History suggests we will see several ‘false dawns’ before the market finally bottoms.
Consumers around the world are tightening their purses and cutting back on non-essentials as the impact of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Covid, the war, food shortages and rising interest rates – increases.
The market downturn couldn’t have come at a worse time for Apple. It was already facing major supply chain chaos in Q2. And now it has to face a major decline in the smartphone market itself. Inevitably this will lead to a brutal battle for market share as companies struggle to survive.
Two core trends are playing out in the smartphone market, now it has gone ex-growth. The weaker players are suffering major hits to their revenue and profits. And the most successful company, Apple, is busy accelerating its move into the more service-based markets of the future.
Apple still takes 75% of smartphone profits, due to its domination of the value chain. But other industries have been rather slow to learn the lessons from its success.
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