Coronavirus: Smartphone Sales Collapse Globally

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Global shipments of smartphones experience biggest ever fall in sales in February, as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic bites

Sales of smartphones have experienced their biggest fall, ever since the devices were invented back in the 1990s.

A new report from analyst house Strategy Analytics stated that in February global smartphone shipments dropped 38 percent year-on-year to 61.8 million devices.

It comes as the Coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in China, heavily impacting smartphone manufacturing in that country, before Covid-19 then spread to the rest of the world.

Apple's iPhone 11 Pro. Image credit: Apple
Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro. Image credit: Apple

Sales collapse

According to Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments in February fell 38 percent year-on-year to 61.8 million devices, down from 99.2 million devices shipped in February 2019.

And the finger of blame is being firmly pointed at Coronavirus.

“Global smartphone shipments tumbled a huge 38 percent annually from 99.2 million units in the month of February, 2019, to 61.8 million in February, 2020,” explained Linda Sui, director at Strategy Analytics.

“Smartphone demand collapsed in Asia last month, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and this dragged down shipments across the world,” said Sui. “Some Asian factories were unable to manufacture smartphones, while many consumers were unable or unwilling to visit retail stores and buy new devices.”

Meanwhile Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics said that this is now is a period the smartphone industry will want to forget, with supply and demand of smartphones plunging in China, slumping across Asia, and slowing in the rest of the world.

And there is not much good news looking forward either.

“Despite tentative signs of recovery in China, we expect global smartphone shipments overall to remain weak throughout March, 2020,” said Yiwen Wu, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

“The coronavirus scare has spread to Europe, North America and elsewhere, and hundreds of millions of affluent consumers are in lockdown, unable or unwilling to shop for new devices,” said Wu. “The smartphone industry will have to work harder than ever to lift sales in the coming weeks, such as online flash sales or generous discounts on bundling with hot products like smartwatches.”

Global slowdown

February has been expected to be an important month for the phone industry, with its major annual Mobile World Congress showcase, where many new phones should have been unveiled for the first time.

However the MWC event was eventually cancelled as the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak (as it was at the time of the cancellation) started to be appreciated.

Both Samsung and Apple have warned of sales slowdown, and Apple warned it would miss its profit forecasts and that worldwide iPhone supply would be “constrained”.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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