Global smartphone sales declines 14% in February: Report

New Delhi: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, market demand is fragile but global smartphone sales in February declined only 14 per cent compared to last year, thus showing some resilience, a new report has said.

From the supply-side, global smartphone shipments (sell-in) fell a slightly more, down 18 per cent compared to last year but again a lower than expected drop, according to Counterpoint Research.

As coronavirus spreads like wildfire around the globe, its impact on the technology industry is unprecedented.

The global smartphone market is largely a replacement market, meaning that smartphones are a discretionary purchase.

"While people may delay purchasing due to the coronavirus pandemic, especially in the early part of the crisis when the disruption and uncertainty are both high, they will still replace their smartphone at some point. This means that sales will not be entirely lost Â- just delayed," Peter Richardson, VP and Research Director, Counterpoint Research, said in a statement.

Sell-in shipments, which represents the supply of smartphones, were relatively weaker, but February is a traditional low period for production, especially if it coincides with the Chinese New Year as was the case this year.

However China, the initial epicenter of the epidemic, did show a huge 38 per cent decline. But it is showing signs of a rebound already.

Overall, global smartphone sales in February showed weakness in many markets as consumers became cautious.

But with the growth of online channels, we saw sales shifting from offline to online. Offline sales in China fell more than 50 per cent during February.

But this fall was partially offset with stronger online sales, so the overall drop at 38 per cent, was not so severe.

"While China and South Korea are gradually recovering, the worst is far from over for many other parts of the world," said Jene Park, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint.

In terms of the competitive landscape, the demand for Samsung smartphones remained stable due to the minimum exposure to the Chinese supply chain and China market demand, thus, capturing 22 per cent global smartphone market share in terms of sales volumes.

Apple felt some impact from the supply-side during the month both in China in early February and outside of China in the latter half of the month, which affected its sales performance.

However, Huawei which has maximum exposure to China from both supply and demand perspectives, actually performed well above expectations, selling more than 12 million smartphones during February, seeing just a 1 per cent drop in global market share.

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