By Emmanuel Oluebube, Correspondent UK
The worldwide smartphone market showed signs of improvement in the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20) with shipments declining just 1.3 per cent year over year, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. In total, 353.6 million smartphones were shipped during 3Q20 and while the market declined, the results were stronger than IDC’s previous forecast of a 9 per cent year-over-year decline. This is largely attributed to the re-opening of economies around the globe as COVID-19 restrictions were gradually relaxed.
An important trend on the road to market recovery is a faster than expected rebound in some key emerging markets. India, which is the second largest market globally, witnessed very strong volumes during the quarter despite further concerns around the COVID pandemic. Other emerging markets, such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Russia, which rank fourth, fifth, and sixth in the world, also experienced strong growth.
“Although there was an element of pent-up demand that fueled market growth, it was mainly the array of heavy promotions and discounts that accelerated growth in these markets,” said research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, Nabila Popal. “In India, distance learning has actually boosted the demand for low-end smartphones as they are a more affordable option compared to tablets. The increased low-end demand only further increases competition and adds pressure to the vendors’ bottom line.”
Larger, more developed markets like China, Western Europe, and North America all witnessed the largest declines in 3Q20. Given these are the largest markets for Apple, the month delay in the iPhone 12 launch contributed to the decline. However, across many of these markets 5G promotions are starting to heat up and a full array of products is quickly becoming available to consumers at all price points.
“While some of the topline numbers may not seem pretty, we are seeing a lot of improvement in the smartphone market both in terms of supply chains and consumer demand,” said programme vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, Ryan Reith. “In the large developed markets, it is very clear that 5G will be positioned to most consumers as their next phone regardless of which brand or price point they are focused on. Marketing has ramped up significantly. Products are widely available. Promotions are happening. And it’s clear that the top sales initiative in these markets is to push 5G. Having said this, we still believe consumer demand for 5G is minimal at best, which only adds to the price pressure on channels and OEMs.”
Smartphone Company Highlights
Samsung reclaimed the top position in 3Q20 with a market share of 22.7 per cent after shipping 80.4 million smartphones, up 2.9 per cent year over year. In India, the largest market for Samsung and accounting for 15 per cent of total volume, the brand significantly improved its position with close to 40 per cent growth year over year thanks to its strong performance in the under US$250 price segment and the online channel where its M series models did quite well. In the US, Samsung’s second largest market, momentum was strong for the A series with good performances from the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra as well, which contributed to almost 20 per cent of total volume in 3Q20.
Huawei lost the top spot and settled into the second position in 3Q20 with 51.9 million smartphones shipped and 14.7 per ent share. The vendor suffered a large drop – down 22 per cent year over year – with continued declines in international markets and a drop of more than 15 per cent in China. The company continues to face challenges due to the ever increasing impact of the US sanctions, which are taking a toll on its performance even in China as the brand is trying to pace out its shipments over a longer period.