The global coronavirus outbreak, which is believed to originate from China, has adversely affected economies around the world. In the technology industry, the impact has also been felt with major segments – production and consumption – affected severely.

According to the recent Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments have declined by 11.7% year over year in the first quarter of 2020. IDC says this is the most significant annual decline ever.

Total smartphone shipments globally stood at 275.8 million during the period.

China recorded the largest decline of all the markets, with a 20.3% drop year over year. It’s no surprise that this is the region that saw the worst decrease, considering that the outbreak is said to have emanated from within, thus resulting in a countrywide shutdown.

Although the rest of the world has also followed suit and shut down in various capacities, China is the most critical region given that it harbors the global smartphone supply chain, which, as the lockdown commenced, was strained.

“What started as primarily a supply-side problem initially limited to China has grown into a global economic crisis with the demand-side impact starting to show by the end of the quarter,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

Towards the end of Q1, the supply chain started to bounce back, although this was the time when other major economies shut down profoundly affecting demand.

“Consumers get increasingly cautious about their spending in such uncertain times, and it is hard to think smartphone purchases won’t suffer as a result,” he added.


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