The worldwide smartphone market is forecast to decline 11.9% year over year in 2020 with shipments totaling 1.2 billion units, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. The forecast follows the largest year-over-year decline in history in the first quarter of 2020. Smartphone shipments are now expected to decline 18.2% in the first half of the year as the macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect consumer spending. Global smartphone shipments are not expected to return to growth until the first quarter of 2021.
“What started as a supply-side crisis has evolved into a global demand-side problem. Nationwide lockdowns and rising unemployment have reduced consumer confidence and reprioritized spending towards essential goods, directly impacting the uptake of smartphones in the short term,” said Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “On the brighter side, 5G is expected to be a catalyst throughout the forecast period, which will play a vital role in worldwide smartphone market recovery in 2021.”
From a geographic standpoint, the Chinese economy will continue to be impacted by COVID-19, however, signs of improvement are showing as lockdowns and supply chain disruptions have begun to ease a bit. For the most part, factories have resumed operations and the market has opened with some travel and logistical restrictions, leading IDC to believe the China domestic market will only see a single-digit decline in 2020. In contrast, Europe has been hit hard by COVID-19, especially in severely impacted countries like Italy and Spain, which will cause a double-digit decline in the region this year.