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Huawei and Italy smartphone sales most heavily hit by COVID-19

The latest numbers from analyst firm Counterpoint reveal the European smartphone market shrank by 7% in Q1 2020, but there was considerable variation between vendors and countries.

Huawei took by far the biggest kicking among the top vendors, but that was probably more due to US sanctions, especially those restricting access to Android. Ironically other Chinese vendors, especially Xiaomi, were the major beneficiaries of Huawei’s struggles.

“Huawei declined a sharp 43% YoY for the quarter as the US trade sanctions continue to bite,” said Abhilash Kumar of Counterpoint. “Xiaomi has been the biggest beneficiary from Huawei’s decline as it grew 145% YoY capturing 11% share in the quarter.”

By far the most heavily hit among the European countries that Counterpoint tracks was Italy, which saw its smartphone market shrink by 21% year-on-year. Italy was the first European country to be heavily hit by the virus and consequently imposed a strict lockdown. The UK didn’t start locking down until the end of Q1 and Russia was hit even later, so it will be interesting to see how this data looks for Q2.

“Q1 is seasonally weak, but the coronavirus outbreak amplified this,” said Peter Richardson of Counterpoint. “The smartphone market decline was primarily due to COVID-19 outbreak across the region in the second half of the quarter. The biggest five markets in Europe entered lockdowns of varying severity at different points in March. Consequently, most of the offline stores were closed, though online remained open throughout. Also, the economic impact of the pandemic has led to lengthening replacement cycles as consumers withhold making discretionary purchases.”


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