Apple Iphone 11 Pro Apple Watch 5 Availability Ny Interior Crowd 5th AveSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Global smartphone shipments saw their steepest decline in history last month.
  • Shipments dropped 38 percent in February 2020.
  • COVID-19 and its impact on manufacturing and shopping habits is to blame.

Apple had adjusted its expected performance for this quarter back in February, saying that the company would not hit its initial estimates due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Strategy Analytics has released a new report starting to shed some light on how much of a hit the smartphone market took. According to Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, the market saw its sharpest decline ever in February.

"February 2020 saw the biggest fall ever in the history of the worldwide smartphone market. Supply and demand of smartphones plunged in China, slumped across Asia, and slowed in the rest of the world. It is a period the smartphone industry will want to forget."

Linda Sui, Director at Strategy Analytics, revealed that the smartphone market dropped 38 percent annually when comparing February 2019 to 2020. Sui attributes this drop to COVID-19 and factory's inability to manufacture devices as well as consumers being unable or hesitant to buy them.

"Global smartphone shipments tumbled a huge 38 percent annually from 99.2 million units in the month of February, 2019, to 61.8 million in February, 2020. Smartphone demand collapsed in Asia last month, due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and this dragged down shipments across the world. Some Asian factories were unable to manufacture smartphones, while many consumers were unable or unwilling to visit retail stores and buy new devices."

Yiwen Wu, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics, says that he does not expect much to improve in March, and that the industry will have to get creative with discounts and bundles in order to boost sales.

"Despite tentative signs of recovery in China, we expect global smartphone shipments overall to remain weak throughout March, 2020. The coronavirus scare has spread to Europe, North America and elsewhere, and hundreds of millions of affluent consumers are in lockdown, unable or unwilling to shop for new devices. The smartphone industry will have to work harder than ever to lift sales in the coming weeks, such as online flash sales or generous discounts on bundling with hot products like smartwatches."

The report did not break down as to how each individual smartphone brand performed in February, so it is currently unclear how much the iPhone was impacted by this drop in shipments.