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A man looks at a mobile phone in a Xiaomi shop in Beijing. File photo: AFP

Chinese smartphone shipment projections down 5 per cent this year due to coronavirus outbreak

  • Leading Chinese smartphone vendors such as Huawei Technologies, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi are expected to suffer badly at home in the first half of 2020
  • Global smartphone shipment projections have also been revised down by 2 per cent

Amid the ongoing outbreak of a new coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, Chinese major smartphone vendors are now expected to ship 5 per cent fewer smartphones this year than previously projected.

“The outbreak of novel coronavirus in Wuhan will hit the China and global economy during the first half of 2020,” said Linda Sui, director of Strategy Analytics in a report by the research firm. “The smartphone market will be adversely impacted by the slowing economic growth and the plunging consumer spending.”

Leading vendors such as Huawei Technologies, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi are expected to suffer badly at home in the first half of 2020, Sui added.

The report also predicted that the outbreak will impact global smartphone supply and manufacturing, because China makes 70 per cent of all smartphones sold.

“Any delay of operations for factories, by quarantine or travel restriction, will inevitably cause [a] temporary labour-supply shortage,” said Sui. “The biggest impact will hit China, but other connected economies will feel a ripple, like Japan or the US”.

Strategy Analytics forecast that the global market will ship 2 per cent fewer smartphones than expected in 2020, due to “the fear and ‘paralysis’ caused by [the] coronavirus”.

Huawei dominates China’s smartphone market but impact of coronavirus looms

Taiwanese tech company Asus, for example, has stated that its ROG Phone II will face temporary shortages due to the disruption in its supply chain caused by the situation in Asia relating to the epidemic.

A separate report from market research firm Canalys also said the coronavirus outbreak in China could further hurt the smartphone market in the country, with shipments in the fourth quarter the lowest since the first quarter of 2013.

Commenting on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Huawei said in a statement that its operations in offices outside China were “continuing as usual, from supply to delivery”. Oppo said that, so far, “the company’s global employees are in good health and it is actively preparing for countermeasures to ensure the normal work and production are not affected”.

Xiaomi vice-president Lu Weibing said “the recent shortage of various product models is indeed very serious, and the situation will gradually be relieved after February 10”, in a post on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform.

At least 24 provinces, municipalities and regions in mainland China have told businesses to extend their public holidays, with employees resuming work on February 10 at the earliest.


Vivo declined to comment on whether they were facing a potential decline in smartphone shipments due to the situation.

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