According to a new report from IDC, supply issues and lockdowns caused a 3.6% decrease in delivered units of smartphone shipments.
IDC's latest Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker revealed that 2021 saw the delivery of 1.45 million units, down from 1.5 million units in 2020.
"While shipments in the first half of 2021 grew 17% [year-over-year] and carried through the positive momentum seen in 2H20, the New Zealand market stuttered in the back half of 2021 as supply issues on chipsets and components impacted the market," IDC Market Analyst for ANZ Mobile Devices Maxim Wilson says.
"Additionally, lockdowns from the COVID-19 Delta variant limited shipments into retail channels."
IDC says this resulted in a 16% decline year-over-year in 2H21 as some key vendors had difficulty fulfiling orders over the holiday season.
Furthermore, Samsung took the top spot in the holiday quarter (2021Q4) for the first time since 2015, as Apple's primary focus on the iPhone 13 series impacted the supply and fulfilment of older models.
Supply issues are currently a significant issue in the New Zealand market, and Wilson highlights a concern around a consolidating New Zealand market.
"Apple, Samsung and OPPO accounted for 88% of all shipments in 2021, up from 79% in 2020. While supply issues persist, the reliance on a handful of brands could increase the current imbalances between supply and demand.
"Any longer-term issues affecting these three key vendors will likely not see enough shipments to fulfill demand, therefore the case for another key player in a basket of smaller vendors becomes stronger."
However, despite the decrease in shipments in 2021, the market's overall performance was strong, as revenue grew 9.4% year-over-year.
IDC notes this was mainly due to standout volume in the ultra-premium price band, as demand for flagship devices across Apple, Samsung and OPPO stayed consistently high all year.
The NZ$1500 price band and above accounted for 20% of shipments in 2021, up 48% year-over-year.
Moreover, IDC says the NZ$150-NZ$300 bracket grew 27% year-over-year.
IDC also acknowledges the rise of average selling prices (ASPs) as component costs have increased and more models have shifted into this price band and out of the sub-NZ$150 band.
The company anticipates this trend will continue in 2022 as inflation continues, resulting in higher ASPs.
IDC is currently forecasting 624,000 units in the first half of 2022, down 1.4% year-over-year, as Omicron and supply issues persist.
In addition, IDC says 5G capable shipments are predicted to make up 65% of total volume in 1H22.
It says this is due to vendors releasing mid-range 5G capable devices and telcos increasing their network coverage, adding that 2degrees's 5G network launch means all three network operators have 5G mobile coverage in the country.
In March, Apple also released its first 5G mid-range device, the iPhone SE 3. IDC expects this to perform well in the first few quarters but is cautious over the longer term given the small 4.7" screen size, as the market is accustomed to much larger screen sizes.