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Global smartphone sales experience ‘worst decline ever’

Global smartphone sales experience ‘worst decline ever’

Samsung held the top spot globally

Credit: Dreamstime

Global smartphone sales fell by a fifth, year-on-year, in the first quarter of 2020, with recent analysis calling it the “worst decline ever” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sales fell 20.2 per cent, year-on-year, compared to Q1 2019, with Anshal Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner, pinning the drop on the pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic caused the global smartphone market to experience its worst decline ever,” he said.

“Most of the leading Chinese manufacturers and Apple were severely impacted by the temporary closures of their factories in China and reduced consumer spending due to the global shelter in place.”

This reduced consumer spending comes as Gartner research vice president Annette Zimmermann claimed in the previous quarter that international demand was not expected to be affected.

Samsung was ranked number one globally with 55 million units sold and market share of 18.5 per cent for the quarter, which while bolstered by more inventory, was let down by its online efforts and the lockdown.

“COVID-19 negatively impacted Samsung’s smartphone sales during the quarter. However, the decline could have been much worse,” Gupta said. “Its limited presence in China and the location of its manufacturing facilities outside of China prevented a steeper fall.”

Huawei, while coming in second place globally with 43 million units sold and 14.2 per cent market share, recorded a year-on-year decline of 27.3 per cent – its first ever drop, and the rest of the year is expected to be challenging.

“[Huawei] has developed the Huawei Mobile Service (HMS) ecosystem, but with the lack of popular Google apps and Google Play store, Huawei is unlikely to attract new smartphone buyers in international markets,” Gupta said.

In third place internationally was Apple with 41 million units sold, a decline of 8.2 per cent, and 13.7 per cent market share as it faced supply constraints and store closures in the first quarter of 2020.

In fact, if it was not for the coronavirus pandemic, Apple may have reached record quarterly iPhone sales, according to Zimmermann.

“Apple had a strong start to the year thanks to its new product line up that saw strong momentum globally,” she said.

“Apple’s ability to serve clients via its online stores and its production returning to near normal levels at the end of March helped recover some of the early positive momentum.”


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