Chinese Smartphone Sales Fall a Record 22% Though Huawei Shone

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese smartphone sales plummeted by an unprecedented 22% during the first quarter after the Covid-19 outbreak forced brands from Apple Inc. to Xiaomi Corp. to shut stores and created nationwide supply bottlenecks, according to Counterpoint Research.

Huawei Technologies Co. was the only major name to grow sales in the first three months, by 6% to 28.7 million phones -- more than No. 2 and No. 3 brands Vivo and Oppo, combined. Xiaomi’s unit sales plunged 35%, worst among the top five, Counterpoint said. Apple’s iPhone sales dipped about 1%, the consultancy estimated after tracking sell-through volume, a figure closer to units actually bought by consumers rather than shipped or produced.

The pandemic has gutted the global smartphone market, stoking uncertainty across a tech industry that supplies components for mobile devices from memory chips to displays and processors. On Wednesday, Samsung Electronics Co. warned of a profit decline this quarter, stemming in large part from a dismal outlook for the mobile device arena.

The domestic outlook remains uncertain. Smartphone vendors with extensive retail networks such as Apple and Xiaomi began reopening stores in February and March, but consumer spending is volatile after China’s historic economic contraction. Counterpoint noted that roughly half of smartphones was sold online through online marketplaces such as and Alibaba in the first quarter. In a sign of potentially stronger longer-term demand, sales of faster fifth-generation or 5G phones more than doubled during the period.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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