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Smartphone market suffers 13% drop as coronavirus pandemic causes huge economic uncertainty

Smartphone market suffers 13% drop as coronavirus pandemic causes huge economic uncertainty
(Image credit: Getty)

Smartphone sales are in for their worst year in a decade due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to research by technology analyst firm CCS Insight. With the economic uncertainty, job losses and redundancies, and the closure of retail stores across the globe, people just aren’t buying the best smartphones.

CCS expects a drop of 13% in the mobile phone market, which is equivalent to around a quarter of a billion units. That still leaves the total number of smartphones sold this year at an estimated 1.57 billion handsets, so it’s not like the entire smartphone industry is going to implode in on itself, but this is still the lowest number is ten years.

This huge downturn in sales is unsurprisingly being blamed entirely on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic which is sweeping the globe currently. CCS identified the three main impacts that the virus is having on the mobile phone market.

The first of these is the major impact that the virus and quarantine procedures are having on people’s everyday lives, which is reducing the demand for non-essential items. The second is the impact that the virus has had on global supply chains, with many factories having to close down to prevent the spread of the infection. We’ve seen this with Apple and Huawei, who took big hits to output last month. Even companies like Samsung who got off lighter to start with are feeling the effects now. Finally, the global economy has taken a huge hit, one that will likely last long after the virus has been contained.

Light at the end of the tunnel

In the press release, CCS Insight vice president Marina Koytcheva stated that “Data from China gives us a good indication of the effect that lockdowns and consumer uncertainty have on demand for phones. In January and February 2020, sales volume fell 44% from the same period in 2019. Early data from other countries that have introduced strict measures to fight the pandemic suggests similar declines”.

It's not all bad news though. While CCS expects that the smartphone will stay muted, even in the later half of the year when most of the world has come out the other side of the pandemic, it does predict that the market will bounce back in a big way in 2021. This isolation has shown us just how important connectivity is. We can’t go out to see our friends and family, so we’re relying on technology to fill the gap.

If you’re struggling to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones or find yourself using way more data than you used to, check out our best cell phone providers or best internet providers guides to see if you can find a better deal. And if you need a tech upgrade to go with your connection, check out the best laptops and best tablets.