Mobile phone shipments fall for three consecutive years as 5G becomes a savior for mobile phone manufacturers?

A few days ago, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released mobile phone shipments for the domestic market in 2019: the total shipments were 389 million units, a year-on-year decrease of 6.2%. This is the third consecutive year of decline since 2017, and mobile phone makers are still having a hard time. 

However, 5G mobile phones achieved a “from 0 to 1” leapfrog in 2019, with annual shipments exceeding 13 million units, especially in the last two months of 2019, with shipments exceeding 5 million units. Will 5G mobile phones that are rapidly flying into the homes of ordinary people become long-awaited saviors for mobile phone manufacturers?

Overall decline narrowed, manufacturers sell 4G to 5G

The year-on-year decrease of 6.2% indicates that the overall domestic mobile phone market is still in a continuous shrinking range. The research report of the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology shows that since the domestic mobile phone shipments reached a historical peak of 660 million units in 2016, the data has been going down. 

The year-on-year decrease in 2017 reached 12.3% in double digits, and the year-on-year decrease in 2018 reached 15.6%. In contrast, the year-on-year decrease in 2019 narrowed significantly, and the overall trend showed a recovery.

In the market environment that has shrunk in the past three years, many manufacturers have experienced the “dark moment” of declining sales and decreasing share. Some brands have changed from mainstream to marginal, and some manufacturers have withdrawn from the market directly. 

There were still more than 20 million sales of Meizu in 2017, and in 2018, there will be less than 10 million sales, which will be directly “cut.” Samsung in the “post-note 7” era has almost lost the Chinese market. The hammer, which was once “maverick”, was officially bankrupted in 2019 after being seen by countless people for several years. 

The Chinese mobile phone market outside of Apple’s basic disk has become a place for competition among four domestic manufacturers of “Huami OV”. According to market research company Canalys statistics, in the third quarter of this year, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, and Apple’s five mobile phone manufacturers in China’s market share reached 92%, an increase of 3.3% over the same period in 2018. Market concentration has further increased.

In 2019, the eve of the large-scale rollout of 5G, the main line of the 4G mobile phone market is “destocking.” China Merchants Securities electronics industry analyst Fang Jing told the Beijing News reporter that this year Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo and other manufacturers are consciously destocking 4G mobile phones, whether it is asking for supplies from the supply chain or continuing to distribute goods to channel vendors, In this case, they can enter the 5G era lightly.

In the third quarter of 2019 earnings call, Xiaomi founder, chairman and CEO Lei Jun stated that it is now in the 4G to 5G switching period, and the mobile phone market environment Under pressure, Xiaomi chose to grow steadily, improve its profitability and cash reserves, and digest the bad inventory.

Manufacturers accelerate 5G mobile phone shipments

Entering the end of the year, major manufacturers are accelerating the launch of 5G mobile phones. According to data disclosed by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, in December 2019, there were 35 new models listed in China, including 17 4G mobile phones and 11 5G mobile phones, with a gap of only 6 models. 

In November last year, there were 31 new 4G mobile phones and only 4 5G mobile phones, with a difference of 27. In October 2019, there were only 2 new 5G mobile phones on the market. It can be seen that the number of Chinese consumers’ options on 5G mobile phones is showing a blowout.

According to incomplete statistics from the Beijing News reporter, ZTE and Xiaomi have proposed that at least 10 5G mobile phones will be launched next year, and vivo will launch at least 5 5G models.

There are also industry chain news that 4 of the 5 new products that Apple will release next year will also This is a 5G model. Honorary President Zhao Ming also revealed in interviews with reporters including the Beijing News that in addition to the Play series may consider retaining 4G models in certain gears, other series of Honor in 2020 are all 5G products.

According to the data of the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology, the domestic 5G mobile phone shipments in 2019 were 13.769 million. Judging from the proportion, 5G mobile phones only account for 3.5% of the total domestic market.

Although this proportion is not high, it has already performed better than many institutions expected before. What’s more, manufacturers have injected a dose of cardio tonic agent. 5G mobile phone shipments in the last two months of 2019 have exceeded 5 million units, and each month’s shipments are more than the total of the previous 10 months.

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