Coronavirus could cause mobile device shipments to ‘plunge’ in Q1 2020

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16-MacBook-Pro
Notebook shipments could fall by as much as 36%.
Photo: Apple

Coronavirus will cause mobile device shipments to plummet during the first quarter of 2020, according to a new report.

Production at major manufacturing plants throughout China is said to be at “way below normal levels” this week after workers returned to their posts last month. Smartphone shipments could slip below 1.3 billion units for the year.

The latest figures on the COVID-19 outbreak reveal that almost 90,000 people have now been diagnosed with the virus, while the number of deaths has surpassed 3,000. Coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

As many countries around the world work to contain the spread as best as possible, China is desperately trying to ensure that it remains open for business. But it can’t stop mobile device shipments from plummeting.

Mobile shipments suffer coronavirus impact

“Digitimes Research expects mobile devices shipments to see major declines in first-quarter 2020, and the full-year shipment volumes will also be much lower than previously expected,” reads a new report from Digitimes.

How significantly the declines will be all depends on the rate at which workers return to work — and indeed the supply of materials and components — in the coming weeks. As things stand, however, the situation already looks bleak.

Global notebook shipments for the first quarter of 2020 are expected to drop 29-36%, the report warns. That a significant increase over the 17% drop that was projected just a few weeks ago.

The plunge is a result of not only severe labor and component shortages, but also substantial restrictions on transportation. Even when manufacturers can produce goods, there are problems in shipping them out around the world.

Smartphones will feel it, too

Global smartphone shipments are expected to fall below 1.3 billion units this year, down from 1.37 billion units in 2019. This total will include less than 200 million units of 5G devices, Digitimes estimated.

That’s disappointing news for the industry, which has been hoping that 5G would bring a much-needed boost to an already stagnant smartphone market.

Fortunately for some vendors, tablet manufacturing hasn’t been hit quite as hard. Many tablet factories reportedly remained open over the Lunar New Year, while others resumed production on February 10.

“In general, the tablet sector is witnessing better capacity recovery than the notebook and smartphone sectors,” the report added.

The latest information from Digitimes echoes a recent report from reliable TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has warned that iPhone production won’t see a significant improvement until the second quarter of 2020.