Year-over-year smartphone shipments fell by a market record-setting 38-percent in February due to coronavirus, according to a new Strategy Analytics report. Specifically, the number of shipments fell from 99.2 million units for the month in 2019, to 61.8 million this February. Comparatively, the smartphone market prior to that had begun to plateau, with shipments dropping 3-percent from the previous year.
The drop started with the spread of COVID-19, which "collapsed" smartphone demand in Asia. That started with a collapse in demand following widespread quarantine's in China. The drop quickly spread worldwide alongside the spread of the virus. Strategy Analytics indicates that the slump is the biggest in the history of the global smartphone market.
The smartphone market has started to recover from coronavirus but isn't stable just yet
The trend isn't entirely unexpected, given its cause. Strategy Analytics links the drop to the global outbreak of coronavirus. That's now officially been labeled a global pandemic, although some regions are beginning to gain a firmer grasp on its spread. The firm cites the fact that many regions, including those in Europe and North America, are still struggling.
As a result, millions of would-be smartphone buyers are staying home or under strict lockdown guidelines. Buyers that aren't staying home, conversely, are often spending their money on other goods rather than buying a smartphone. That carries over to online sales, reducing shipments that would otherwise stem from those.
Strategy Analytics does note that China is, at least in part, among the regions that are beginning to recover. Given the country's influence on the smartphone market, that should give OEMs a chance to make headway too. That doesn't mean that the turnaround will be quick. China's smartphone shipments will likely start bouncing back. But the trend is expected to continue globally through at least March, albeit to a lesser degree.
To sweeten the deal and get shipments moving again, the firm claims, the industry as a whole is going to need to work harder than ever. That may be accomplished, in the coming weeks, via online flash sales, big discounts, and bundles. Whether smartphone manufacturers, retailers, and carriers actively pursue that route remains to be seen.
This isn't surprising, given what's happening to tech, as an industry
Now, the smartphone industry is not the only segment of the technology market suffering due to the spread of COVID-19. And the virus's impact on the mobile market isn't entirely unexpected either.
Samsung has pointed to coronavirus as one cause behind lackluster Galaxy S20 series sales, for starters. But Foxconn, a leading producer of a variety of smartphone brands from Pixel devices to Apple handsets, has suffered major setbacks as well. The company doesn't just build smartphones either. Foxconn is also behind the production of computers, game consoles, and other electronics.
Foxconn has vowed "long-term cooperation" with suppliers and other partners in the industry to offset the problem. It expects production to begin approaching normal after March. The same effects have been felt across other OEMs, suppliers, and companies in the tech industry too. That's been the case from device makers and retailers such as Best Buy and GameStop to shippers such as Amazon.