Gartner thinks that the coronavirus pandemic will result in a major decline in smartphone sales and delay the impact of 5G handsets this year. The analyst outfit is predicting the mobile phone market will contract by 14.6 percent this year, as restrictions on movement and an economic slowdown cause delayed or cancelled purchases of new devices.
Globally, the month of February and the first quarter of 2020 saw the biggest contractions in market history.
The disruption exacerbated existing difficulties. After many years of explosive growth in the early 2010s, the smartphone market has contracted over the past few quarters. Market saturation, a perceived lack of innovation, and the increasing cost of handsets have all been cited as contributory factors, Big G said.
It had been hoped the arrival of 5G networks would reverse this trend but the pandemic means this will not be the case, at least in in 2020. Gartner says 5G handsets will represent just 11 percent of total shipments this year, boosted by sales in China.
Gartner reseacher Ranjit Atwal said: “While users have increased the use of their mobile phones to communicate with colleagues, work partners, friends and families during lockdowns, reduced disposable income will result in fewer consumers upgrading their phones. As a result, phone lifetimes will extend from 2.5 years in 2018 to 2.7 years in 2020.”
Big G said that remote working saved the PC market from collapse. Sales will fall by a tenth in 2020 but this would have been worse without purchases of laptops and Chromebooks to support people working from home during the pandemic.
“This trend combined with businesses required to create flexible business continuity plans will make business notebooks displace desk-based PCs through 2021 and 2022”, added Atwal.