Samsung predictably fell short of its 2021 goals, and the Galaxy S21 series is partly to blame

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Following a tough year for the entire mobile industry badly affected by the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, 2021 was widely expected to put major smartphone vendors like Samsung back on track in terms of both sales numbers and profits.

But as if the seemingly endless public health challenges of these troubled times were not enough to cause issues in factories around the world, a huge chip shortage made it practically impossible for companies to stick to their original product release schedules and keep up with consumer demand.
With all of that in mind, it’s certainly not surprising to hear that Samsung has failed to meet its smartphone production and shipment goals for last year. The million billion-dollar question is just how bad the tech giant ended 2021, and the answer, as you can imagine, is… complicated.

Was the Galaxy S21 series a hit?

No, it was not. Sorry, Samsung, but while analyzing the financial well-being of the company’s mobile division as a whole is definitely a complex matter worthy of careful consideration and healthy debate, the S21 “situation” feels… pretty straightforward. 

Commercially released earlier in 2021 than the S22 family is expected to debut this year, the 5G-enabled Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra merely accounted for a combined “mid-20 million units” shipment total in a full 11 months on the market.

That’s apparently more or less how many Galaxy S20-series units Samsung managed to ship worldwide during a similar timeframe… in the midst of an even more challenging period for the smartphone market.

Add to the equation the absence of a Galaxy Note 21, which was supposed to help the S21 lineup, and the much higher sales results registered by Galaxy S-series devices in the past, and you can probably understand why Samsung may not want to wait until March to launch the S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra.
For what it’s worth, the company reportedly believes sales could have been a lot better were it not for production issues encountered in Vietnam. Also, while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 5G are curiously never mentioned in this new report, all prior evidence seems to point to a very strong showing from the two foldable devices at the global box-office so far.

So how many smartphones did Samsung make in 2021?

“Slightly over” 300 million, apparently, which is by no means a number to be ashamed of. Obviously, that’s not also how many smartphones the company shipped last year, with the latter figure estimated to stand in the “late-200 million units” ballpark.

In case you’re wondering, Samsung’s 2020 global shipment tally stood at around 253 million units, according to at least one market research firm, which means that the world’s largest handset vendor most likely managed to improve its score year-over-year.

The company’s industry supremacy is also in no way threatened, but on the not so bright side of things, the pre-pandemic 296 million unit shipment total of 2019 looks completely out of reach right now.

That’s not stopping Samsung from setting yet another lofty production goal of 334 million smartphones for 2022, roughly 285 million units of which could come from its own factories. That would be up from around 239 million in 2021, with the rest being technically manufactured by companies like Wintech and Huaqin and merely sold under Samsung’s banner.

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