After two consecutive quarters of more than 20% decline in sales, global smartphone sales have started showing signs of recovery.
According to Gartner’s recent Q3 report, smartphone sales to end-users worldwide totalled 366 million during the quarter, 5.7% below the third-quarter sales in 2019.
Despite the drop, the number of sales shows significant growth from the first half of the year when sales declined by 20% in each quarter due to the effects of COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pent up Demand Drives Sales
The uptick in sales during the third quarter comes at a time when vendors are introducing multiple 5G smartphones and governments are relaxing the shelter-in-place policy that stagnated sales in several regions.
However, Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner believes that the growth was driven by pent up demand from previous quarters not necessarily the launch of new 5G products.
According to the research company, the delay in 5G network upgrades has limited the opportunity for smartphone vendors. It also added that the economic uncertainties and continued fear of the pandemic will put pressure on nonessential spending through the end of 2020.
Despite the economic outlook, the relatively strong sales during the Black Friday and Thanksgiving Weekend also bolstered sales during the quarter.
In general, total mobile sales which include both smartphones and feature phones was down 8.7% to 401 million units. This shows that both smartphones and feature phones are feeling the brunt of the pandemic.
Xiaomi overtakes Apple in number 3 spot
Samsung remains at the top of the smartphone chart with a market share of 22 %, selling over 80.8 million units during the quarter. Huawei follows with about 14% market share after selling 51.8 million units.
Xiaomi moved ahead of Apple into the number 3 position for the first time ever with sales of 44.4 million units compared to Apple’s sales of 40.5 million units during the quarter. This represents a 0.6% drop in the sales for Apple when compared to 2019.
According to research vice president at Gartner, Annette Zimmermann, the slight decrease was mainly due to Apple’s delayed commencement of shipment of its new 2020 iPhone generation.
Oppo completes the top 5 smartphone vendors with just 29.89 million units sold.
She expatiated that in previous years, the shipment would always start mid/end of September. “This year, the launch event and shipment start began 4 weeks later than usual.”
Three of the top five smartphone markets see growth
As shelter-in-place is being lifted, smartphone sales in some of the top markets around the world have begun to recover. India, Indonesia and Brazil; three of the top 5 smartphone markets in the world saw growth for the first time since the beginning of the year.
India, Indonesia and Brazil grew 9.3%, 8.5% and 3.3%, respectively during the quarter
Similarly, there are early signs of recovery in few markets including parts of Asia/Pacific and Latin America.
China which has returned to near-normal conditions and improved smartphone production to fill in the supply gap which benefited sales to some extent. It also helped drive the sales of Samsung and Xiaomi which are the only vendors in the top five to experience growth in the third quarter of 2020.
The big hope that 2020 will be a good year for smartphone sales following the launch of the new generation of 5G phones was shattered by Covid-19.
Although there are growing sales in 5G smartphones, the new technology hasn’t performed as expected especially considering how vendors and makers have marketed its higher efficiency and speed.
However, the technology could still make a significant impact albeit not this year as the roadmap for its rollout still remains patchy and consumer confidence is still low.
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