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Smartphone sales set for worst year in a decade, study claims

The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will see smartphone sales fall to their lowest levels in a decade, according to a new study.

Research group CCS Insight believes 1.26 billion phones will be sold this year, down from 1.41 billion in 2019 and the worst performance since 2010. That’s a 13% fall in sales throughout the year, while the current quarter of the year will see sales fall by 29%.

Those worst sales in a decade predictions are particularly alarming considering in 2010/11, smartphone sales weren’t the be-all-end-all, with many folks still relying on their feature phones at that point in time.

Related: Best smartphones 2020

The researchers reckon the slowdown in supply chains will make it more difficult for manufacturers to get the phones out there, while consumers and businesses will be less inclined to splurge on new handsets amid the current disruption. That impact will continue, with purse strings tightened once the outbreak is brought under control. Because no high street shops are open, there’s no impulse buying either.

However while the current predicament for the smartphone market is grim at best, the doom and gloom won’t last forever, according to the analysts. CSS predicts the smartphone market will make a “swift recovery” in 2021, partially due to the advent of 5G phones and the high value placed on the sector by both consumers and businesses.

The analysts base these assumptions on the Chinese market, which is about to get back on its feet after getting on top of the spread of the virus.

Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at CCS Insight, explains: “Data from China gives us a
good indication of the effect that lockdowns and consumer uncertainty have on demand for phones.
In January and February 2020, sales volume fell 44% from the same period in 2019. Early data from
other countries that have introduced strict measures to fight the pandemic suggests similar
declines.”

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