The Chinese smartphone market has suffered severely in Q1 of 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak. But the market, once an El Dorado for investors and tech companies, had already lost some of its appeal before, as demand was weakening even before the COVID-19 crisis hit. The market had already been decreasing in volume for 13 consecutive quarters (year-on-year) as of Q4 2019 and logged its 14th consecutive quarter of negative growth most recently.
Maker of the iPhone, Apple, has been feeling the effects of the sluggish Chinese market, but so have domestic companies. All companies sold less phones in total than a year before, yet - among the major players - Huawei was able to grow its market share opposite the competition most.
Longer replacement cycles and weak consumer spending were reasons why smartphone makers can’t sell more phones to Chinese consumers even before the virus crisis, according to analytics firm Strategy Analytics. The trade war with the United States didn’t help Chinese tech companies either.
Analyst IDC is expecting the Chinese and global smartphone markets to only pick back up by 2022. They cite the launches of several high-end devices that are expected to have consumers willing to upgrade from existing phones. Foldables and 5G-networks are also expected to make Chinese consumers willing to spend on smartphones again.