COVID-19 Pandemic Effect on Global Smartphone Sales, Revealed

International research agency Canalys has just released the total smartphones sales data that the firm gathered in Q1 2020 -- and the figures presented pretty much confirm the COVID-19 Pandemic's devastating effect on the global handset industry.

According to Canalys, total smartphone sales within the said period fell by 13% to just 272 million units from as high as 369 million units in Q4 2019.

COVID-19 Pandemic Effect Global Smartphone Sales, Q1 2020 Smartphone Sales Worldwide

Mr. Ben Stanton, Canalys' Senior Analyst, noted that in February 2020, when the coronavirus was still mainly in China, handset vendors were primarily concerned about how to make enough smartphone units to meet worldwide demand. However, in March, the situation turned upside down as half the world entered COVID-19 lockdown and sales consequently plummeted.

He added that while smartphones are still a necessity for most people and purchasing a new phone is now easier through online retail channels, many consumers who would have bought a new handset as a luxury to start the year have chosen to delay that purchase.

Studying Canalys' chart above, it's clear that prior to the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the smartphone industry was on an upward trajectory in terms of year-on-year growth and even total unit shipments. This makes the very sharp decline caused by the ongoing global health crisis appear even more tragic.

What's worse is that the Q1 2020 figures don't even show the full negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the smartphone industry. Mr. Stanton said that most handset makers expect Q2 2020 to show the peak of the coronavirus’ impact.

"It will test the mettle of the industry -- and some companies, especially offline retailers, will fail without government support. As lockdowns around the world start to lift, the full economic damage will become visible. Smartphone companies must adapt their strategies to mitigate the impact, as cashflow will be critical in the coming months. But if they cut back too much on product spend, marketing spend and new strategic initiatives, they risk losing agility, and will lose ground to rivals once demand bounces back. It is vital to strike a balance," he shared. [source]

COVID-19 Pandemic Effect Global Smartphone Sales, Q1 2020 Smartphone Sales Worldwide

As for the unit sales per brand in Q1 2020, Samsung managed to return to the #1 spot despite its total shipments falling by 17% to 60 million. #2 Huawei shipped 49 million smartphones with most of its sales coming from within China following the company's handling of its US Entity List issues. Cupertino Company Apple was at #3 position with its sales doing down by 8% with just 37 million shipments down from 78.4 million in Q4 2019. Interestingly enough, Chinese brand Xiaomi managed to get a 9% growth despite the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic with 30 million units sold, enough to put it at #4. Finally, Vivo landed at #5 with with 24 million units, representing a 3% growth in the face of this crisis.

Hopefully, the entire technology industry - and the whole world, in general - can recover quickly come the second half of 2020. We can only hope and pray for the best. After all, when we hit rock bottom, there's no other place to go but up.

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