Coronavirus plagues smartphone market outlook

Chinese smartphone sales could be less than expected this year, as an ongoing epidemic crimps spending and disrupts supplies.

Chinese and global smartphone markets will be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, which has dented consumer spending and disrupted supply chains, industry insiders said on Thursday.

The global smartphone market will ship 2 percent fewer devices than expected in 2020, while China’s smartphone sales will be 5 percent lower than previously estimated, according to researcher Strategy Analytics.

“The biggest impact (of the virus) will hit China, but other connected economies will feel a ripple, like Japan or the US,” said Strategy Analytics in its report. 

The virus will also affect global supply and manufacturing, as China makes 70 percent of the world’s smartphones. Any delay in operations for factories, by quarantine or travel restrictions, will inevitably cause temporary labor-supply shortages, analysts said.

Qualcomm, the world’s top mobile chip designer, has lowered its earnings guidance for next quarter in part due to the virus outbreak in China.  

Apple also announced that it will close all Apple stores on the Chinese mainland until February 9, due to the epidemic.

China’s smartphone vendors have cancelled many trips and face-to-face meetings to prepare for the Mobile World Congress, the world’s top telecommunications show to be held in Barcelona later in February. 

But firms like Huawei, ZTE, Oppo, Vivo will still attend the show to display their latest technologies and devices covering 5G.

Foxconn, an electronics assembler with clients including Apple, also said it’s “ready” to restore production in China soon, according to media reports.