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Smartphone shipments suffer a record breaking decline


Thanks to the coronavirus, February was the worst month in the history of the smartphone industry as global shipments plunged 38% year-over-year. Strategy Analytics says that this was the biggest year-over-year decline in the history of the worldwide smartphone market. The number of smartphones delivered globally last month plunged to 61.8 million units from 99.2 million handsets during the same month last year. On a sequential basis, the 61.8 million phones shipped in February represented a 39% drop from January’s total. The COVID-19 outbreak forced manufacturers in China to shut down assembly lines and retail stores in the world’s largest smartphone market.
“February 2020 saw the biggest fall ever in the history of the worldwide smartphone market,” according to Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. He added that “Supply and demand of smartphones plunged in China, slumped across Asia, and slowed in the rest of the world. It is a period the smartphone industry will want to forget.”
During February, Samsung led the way in global smartphone shipments and sales. During the month, the manufacturer unveiled the new Galaxy S20 line and released the foldable Galaxy Z Flip. Following Samsung in both shipments and sales were Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO and Vivo. And the research firm expects the numbers for this month to show weakness as well. Yiwen Wu, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, says, “Despite tentative signs of recovery in China, we expect global smartphone shipments overall to remain weak throughout March 2020. 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. 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.”
It’s ironic that just as assembly lines are ramping up in China and Apple has reopened all 42 Apple Stores in the country, it shuts down its stores throughout the rest of the world. It obviously is going to be sometime before we return to some semblance of normalcy. As a result, we can expect further weakness for the industry not only for the current month but perhaps throughout the spring and summer.

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