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Apple supplier warns of major drop in smartphone sales


An Apple supplier is warning of a significant decline in smartphone demand as we head into the holiday shopping season. Corning, the Apple supplier that makes glass for the iPhone, says that it has seen weaker-than-expected demand for smartphones. The company is now forecasting that smartphone sales will be down 12% in 2022 compared to 2021.

For Q4, Corning is forecasting $3.55 billion in sales, which is lower than the analyst consensus of $3.75 billion. According to that CNBCCorning will “wait to see positive signs before telling investors about future recovery in the business.”

For the quarter ending in September, however, Corning says that it saw a decline in smartphone unit sales of 14% on an annual basis. Demand for tablets and notebooks is also down, according to Corning, with a 17% decline. In total, Corning’s “display technologies” division was down 28% in terms of sales.

Of the whole year, Corning CEO Wendell Weeks said:

“We now expect smartphones to be down about 12% for the year, and we expect notebook and tablet demand to decline 15%,” Weeks said. “We expect the year-over-year decline in smartphones, notebooks and tablets to be greater in the second half than in the first half.”

But there’s a key factor to keep in mind: Corning doesn’t just make parts for Apple. The company works closely with a number of other smartphone manufacturers, as well as other tablet and laptop companies. For instance, Samsung is one of its biggest clients outside of Apple.

This means that the drop in demand and sales cannot be attributed entirely to Apple. In fact, it could be that Apple is actually boosting numbers and helping to make up for more significant drops affecting other companies. Unfortunately, we don’t know the full story here because Corning does not break down its data on a per-company basis.

Apple has also invested in Corning as part of its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. In total, Apple has invested nearly $500 million in the company to help Corning to develop the resilient and durable Ceramic Shield glass, which debuted as the cover glass in the iPhone 12.

CNBC also points out that there is a belief that this slowdown in smartphone sales won’t impact the high-end side of the market as much as it impacts the lower-end devices. This would be good for Apple, which makes some of the most high-end smartphones on the market.

Apple is set to report its fiscal Q4 2022 earnings on Thursday.

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Naveen Kumar

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