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Business News/ Companies / News/  Lockdown crimps 2020 phone sales

Lockdown crimps 2020 phone sales

Smartphone sales declined nearly 2% to 150 million units last year, according to an IDC report

Apple was the fastest-growing brand in 2020, growing sales by 93%afpPremium
Apple was the fastest-growing brand in 2020, growing sales by 93%afp

Smartphone shipments in India dropped for the first time in more than a decade in 2020, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), as a sales surge driven by remote working and distance learning in the latter half of the year failed to make up for lost sales during the lockdown.

Smartphone sales declined nearly 2% to 150 million units last year, according to an IDC report published on Monday.

In the first half of the year, sales slumped 26% from a year ago as a strict lockdown forced shops to close and disrupted production. Demand, however, surged 19% after the curbs were lifted, but not enough to compensate for missed sales at the beginning of the year.

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Global smartphone shipments, however, declined at a faster 5.9% pace in 2020, according to IDC.

December quarter shipments in India, the world’s second biggest smartphone market, grew 21% from a year ago to a record 45 million units.

“In 2021, IDC expects the smartphone market to grow in high single-digit year-on-year, driven majorly by upgrading consumers, in the mid-range segment and affordable 5G offerings," Navkendar Singh, research director, client devices and IPDS ((imaging, printing and document solution), IDC India said in a statement.

Online sales in India, however, surged 12% in 2020 as people remained homebound. Though the online market share at the end of the year was 48%, it accounted for a record 51% of all shipments in the December quarter, IDC said.

Sales events and promotions contributed to the surge in sales on online platforms.

Paras Jain/Mint
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Paras Jain/Mint

IDC noted that footfall in retail stores gradually picked up in the pre-Diwali weeks of October and November, resulting in a 5% growth in the December quarter for offline channels. IDC expects offline retail to bounce back in 2021.

“Revamped offline channel play is anticipated to bring back growth in the very important brick and mortar counters for long-term sustainability," said Singh.

With the rollout of 5G services expected to happen sometime in 2022, demand for 5G devices also grew. Shipment of 5G smartphones crossed 3 million in 2020.

“As more 5G devices are introduced in 2021, the average selling price for smartphones is expected to rise," said Upasana Joshi, associate research manager, client devices, IDC India.

Among brands, Xiaomi was the undisputed leader with a 27% market share, both in the full year and the December quarter. Among the top five brands, Samsung grew the fastest. Sales rose 35% sequentially in the December quarter, giving the South Korean firm a 17% market share. Xiaomi grew 12% sequentially in the quarter.

In terms of annual shipments, both Xiaomi and Samsung ceded market share, indicating a tough year for the two brands. Apple was the fastest-growing brand in 2020, increasing sales by 93%. That placed the company at the seventh position among smartphone brands in India.

Hong Kong-based Transsion was the sixth largest brand in India, growing 64% in 2020, second only to Apple. Transsion owns multiple brands, including Infinix, Itel and Tecno-branded budget smartphones.

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Abhijit Ahaskar
Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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Published: 16 Feb 2021, 05:47 AM IST
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