May 1, 2020 - Technology

Smartphone sales are indeed getting slammed by coronavirus

Illustration of a hand holding a smartphone with an arrow pointing down on the screen
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New data from companies and analysts is indicating that smartphone sales are starting to take a hit as we predicted might be the case earlier this week.

Why it matters: Smartphones have been the growth engine of consumer electronics for more than a decade. Sales were already slowing before the coronavirus, but the industry now appears headed for a significant dip.

Driving the news:

  • Apple said during its earnings report Thursday that iPhone sales should be comparatively weaker this quarter.
  • Qualcomm said to expect smartphone shipments this quarter to be down about 30%, rather than roughly flat from a year ago, as it previously projected.
  • IDC said first-quarter smartphone sales suffered their worst-ever year-over-year decline, with unit shipments falling nearly 12% from 2019.
  • In a separate interim forecast, IDC now projects an 11% drop in smartphone revenue this year, larger than the 6% it was predicting a month ago — and an even sharper contrast with the 5% increase it originally projected for 2020.

Yes, but: It still looks like 5G phones will go mainstream this year. Qualcomm said it is not lowering its full-year forecast that between 175 million and 225 million 5G-capable phones will be sold in 2020.

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