Pandemic Causes Worldwide Smartphone Shipment Declines

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According to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide smartphone shipments are down by 11.7 percent. Yahoo Finance reported it’s typical for a decline in the first quarter of the year, with “the average sequential decline over the last three years hovering between -15 percent to -20 percent.” However, in Q1 2020, the industry experienced its most significant decline ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected China in early 2020, and extended worldwide by the end of Q1. The largest regional decline occurred in China — which ships a quarter of the world’s smartphones — dropping by 20.3 percent year over year. The United States (-16.1 percent) and Western Europe (-18.3 percent) also experienced declines. 

“What started as primarily a supply-side problem initially limited to China has grown into a global economic crisis with the demand-side impact starting to show by the end of the quarter,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. Due to the effects of the pandemic, consumer demand for smartphones also flatlined, added Popal. 

Yahoo Finance reported Samsung shipped 58.3 million smartphones in Q1, regaining the top position with a 21.1 percent share. Huawei came in at number two with a 17.8 percent share, and Apple rounded out the top three, shipping 36.7 million iPhones and grabbing 13.3 percent of market share. All three companies saw a year-over-year decline in smartphone shipments, though with -18.9 percent for Samsung, -17.1 percent for Huawei, and -0.4 percent for Apple.

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