Global sales of smartphones to end users declined 20.2 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, Inc. The global shelter-in-place combined with the economic uncertainty brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic led to demand for smartphones collapsing as consumers stopped spending on nonessential products during the first quarter.
“The coronavirus pandemic caused the global smartphone market to experience its worst decline ever,” said Anshul Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner.
“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.”
We knew it was coming. Even so, the raw numbers are still dramatic. All the main phone makers operating in New Zealand suffered big falls. Samsung and Huawei fared worse. Apple, not so much. Gartner also reports people are hanging on to their phones for longer.
The worldwide numbers from Gartner are consistent with the fall in New Zealand device sales.
Gartner says the first quarter could have been worse for Samsung. It has a limited sales presence in China and doesn’t make phones there.
Huawei is the biggest loser with sales dropping 27.3 percent year-on-year. That’s its first decline. As recently as 2018 Huawei’s market share was still growing at the expense of its rivals.
The company’s problems are less to do with Covid-19, although heaven knows that is bad enough. Huawei cannot use Google apps or the Google Play store with its new phone models. That is a huge turn off for customers outside of China.
Apple got off to a strong start before the pandemic hit. Garter says it may even have been on track to break records.