Global smartphone shipments are expected to reach 1.278 billion units in 2020, including less than 200 million units of 5G models, taking into account the impacts of the coronavirus outbreak on China and around the world in terms of economic growth, Digitimes Research estimates.
In the best-case scenario under which the virus is under control by the end of February and factory resumption rates keep rising, China's top-four handset brands are expected to see their smartphone shipments experience an annual fall of 19.5% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 11% projected in January.
Although most assembly plants and supply chain makers of the leading brands have resumed operations leveraging inventories stockpiled prior to the Lunar New Year holiday, the capacity utilization rates of some key component makers such as those for camera lenses, chassis and touch modules currently reach about 20-40%, with a few at 50%.
However, since only large-scale supply chain makers are currently running at lower capacities and a large number of small makers are awaiting approvals from local governments to restart facilities, the handset industry faces the mounting risks of supply chain disruption in March should any kind of components or materials run out of the stock.
Digitimes Research believes that if the chilling smartphone demand in China turns out to be more severe than expected, the global smartphone market will tumble further in 2020.