Global smartphone shipments experienced the biggest decline in history last month

The smartphone industry suffered greatly last month according to a new report from Strategy Analytics and with the coronavirus situation only getting worse, the prospect of a quick recovery doesn’t seem likely.
Shipments dipped 38 percent year-over-year, from 99.2 million units in February 2019 to just 61.8 million last month.

Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said supply and demand plunged in China, slumped across Asia and slowed in the rest of the world. According to Strategy Analytics director Linda Sui, some Asian factories were unable to manufacture phones while consumers were unable or unwilling to visit retail stores to buy new devices.

The report echoes what we heard from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) earlier this month. According to that report, smartphone sales in China were down nearly 55 percent in February.

“It is a period the smartphone industry will want to forget,” Mawston added.

Senior analyst Yiwen Wu noted that despite signs of recovery in China, they expect global smartphone shipments to remain weak throughout March 2020. With the coronavirus having locked down hundreds of millions of affluent consumers, the industry will have to work harder than ever to lift sales in the coming weeks, Wu said.

Online flash sales or discounts when bundling with other accessories like smartwatches could be one answer, the analyst added.

Apple, however, is taking a different approach in dealing with the whole matter. Rather than encourage as many sales as possible, the Cupertino-based handset maker is limiting the number of devices that users can purchase from its online store as a way to deal with shortages.