Mobile sale falls 15% in Q1, braces for bigger fall in Q2; Sales of feature phones and smartphones were almost zero in April
Covid-19 shutdown has dealt a big blow to the country's mobile handset industry, bringing its import, local production and sale to a standstill.
Mobile handset assemblers and importers said the industry witnessed a 15 percent decline in sale in the January-March quarter of 2020 compared to the same period a year ago.
The sale of feature phones and smartphones was almost zero in April due to the countrywide shutdown since March 26, they said.
They have already missed out Pahela Boishakh, a national festival when sale rises, and now they are poised to miss the Eid market, the biggest season for their sales.
Jakaria Shahid, general secretary of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA), said they were hit since before the lockdown.
"We were facing import cancellations since December when China went into a lockdown. Almost all of our handsets and parts for local assembly come from China," he told The Business Standard on Saturday.
Jakaria said local sales were almost unaffected till February, but things started changing rapidly since the first cases of coronavirus were detected on March 8.
That is the reason the industry's first quarter sales would hardly be down by 15 percent.
"Our sales came down to almost zero in April," said Jakaria, also managing director of Edison Group.
Edison Group that owns Symphony brand was now counting a loss of Tk10 crore every month, he claimed, adding that the figure would jump to Tk100 crore for the entire industry.
Echoing Jakaria, Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion Bangladesh, a subsidiary of Transsion Holdings, said the industry would experience its worst in the ongoing quarter.
"Eid is such an event that covers a significant amount of yearly sales and this year the situation is far from positive. It is becoming difficult for us to survive," he said.
According to Rezwanul, his company paid full salary to factory workers and sales people last month.
"Things are not looking good this month as we have no revenue," he added.
Last year, for the first time in the country's history, local assembling took the lead over smartphone import, buoyed by tax benefits for the assembling industry.
As per the latest data of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), in 2019 the number of locally assembled smartphones increased to 20 lakh, from 7 lakh the previous year.
In contrast, the number of smartphone import fell to 9.67 lakh last year, from 24.44 lakh the previous year.
The global shipments of smartphones fell in the first quarter at the fastest rate on record, according to market trackers Strategy Analytics and IDC.
Shipments totalled about 275 million in the first three months of the year, which estimate the decline from the same period in 2019 at 17 percent.
Meanwhile, the smartphone sale in China fell by 22% year-on-year and 24 percent quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, according to the latest research from Counterpoint's Market Pulse.
It said among the major players, Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi and Apple accounted for a record 93% of the market, only Huawei achieved positive growth even amid the Covid-19 pandemic.