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Global smartphone shipments plummet after coronavirus shutdown – but Samsung still No 1

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Global shipments of smartphones in the first quarter have plummeted as manufacturers struggled with production during coronavirus shutdowns and factory closures in China.

Shipments dropped 16.4 per cent according to Omdia Smartphone Intelligence Service, down from 329.9 million to 274.4 million units.

Nine out of the top 10 companies, including Samsung and Apple, suffered significant declines when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Samsung has managed to hang on to its No 1 ranking with 58.9 million units shipped –  a drop of 17 per cent year on year.

Huawei, ranked second, dropped 17.1 per cent after shipping 49 million units.

Apple also maintained its third position in the global smartphone manufacturers with a smaller shipment drop of 12 per cent.

“Early in the first quarter, the smartphone market was sent reeling by the shutdown of production at facilities in China, which halted the manufacturing of phones and their key components,” said Jusy Hong, smartphone research and analysis director at Omdia.

“While concerns about this situation have been alleviated, the smartphone brands also faced new challenges, including disrupted launch schedules for new phones.

“Even more troubling for smartphone makers is a major decline in global demand due to government lockdown mandates.”

Of the top 10 companies, LG, Motorola, Vivo and Oppo suffered the worst shipment declines with 37.4 per cent, 35.4 per cent, 19.9 per cent and 19.2 per cent respectively.

Motorola’s release of the foldable Razr smartphone wasn’t enough to offset its significant shipment drop.

“The smartphone market will face major struggles in the first half of 2020 as different countries experience the initial shock and recovery periods at different times. That’s why OEMs are more afraid of second-quarter sales results,” Hong said.

“However, Omdia does expect the smartphone market to start to recover in some countries and regions in the second half of the year.”

The impact of coronavirus in the smartphone market is still being felt around the world despite factories resuming normal operation and output.

The major markets around the world are still in a state of lockdown so store sales are well below normal levels.

Apple Stores, for example, have been closed for more than a month and will re-open in the next one or two weeks.

Samsung avoided a more serious decline because its major production facilities are outside of China in Vietnam and South Korea.

Smartphone launch plans across the industry were also disrupted with the cancellation of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

MWC is often the venue were companies introduce their latest smartphones to the world.

“Because of the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress, and uncertainty in the supply chain, original product schedules had to be re-evaluated,” said Gerrit Schneemann, senior analyst, smartphones, at Omdia.

“However, OEMs seem to have found their footing on how to address new device launches going forward.”