Coronavirus-related supply and demand disruptions triggered a steep decline in smartphone shipments last month, according to a new report.
Smartphone shipments fell 38% year-over-year in February, according to Strategy Analytics, representing the largest ever decline in the history of the global smartphone market. Device makers shipped just 61.8 million units over the course of the month.
The coronavirus outbreak in China caused major supply chain disruptions in and around Wuhan, where the virus originated. Chinese authorities imposed widespread restrictions on travel in the region, and the outbreak also constrained smartphone demand owing to retail closures and orders to stay at home during and after the Lunar New Year holiday.
Despite improving conditions in China, global smartphone shipments are likely to remain weak at least through March, said Yiwen Wu, Senior Analyst at Strategy Analytics.
"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," Wu said. "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 coronavirus has since spread to Europe and the U.S., leading to retail closures in those regions as well.
Apple (AAPL) - Get Report said days ago that its retail stores outside of China will close until further notice; Samsung cautioned shareholders earlier this week that the smartphone market "is contracting" due to coronavirus.
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