South Africa’s smartphone market saw shipments decline 22.9% quarter on quarter in Q1 2020, according to the latest insights from global technology research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

While shipments are traditionally weaker in Q1 than in Q4, the major reason behind the underperformance of the market was the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Covid-19 outbreak halted production in China, with the resultant supply shortages effectively severing smartphone shipments into the South African in Q1 2020.

“The country’s poor QoQ performance was due to delays in shipments of mobile phone devices into the country,” said Arnold Ponela, a research analyst at IDC.

“Economic activity is usually slow in the first quarter of the year, but this was exacerbated by uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

“With the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy, consumer demand declined substantially and channel activity was restricted due to lockdown measures and security issues.”

Despite all these challenges around supply and demand, Samsung continues to top the smartphone space in terms of overall smartphone shipments, accounting for 29.9% of the market’s units in Q1 2020.

Samsung’s lead was driven by the launch of various new affordable and feature-rich models such as its new A series and S series range. Mobicel (17.7%) and Huawei (15.9%) followed in second and third place, respectively.

Looking ahead, IDC expects South Africa’s overall mobile phone market to experience a further double-digit decline in Q2 2020 caused by Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“Consumer demand will be severely affected, with the majority of consumer budgets being directed towards essential consumption,” said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.

“Throughout 2020, the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis will compound South Africa’s existing local and macroeconomic challenges. As such, we expect smartphone shipments to the country to decline 6.1% year on year for 2020 as a whole.”

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