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Gartner: Enterprise sales of smartphones show low 5G uptake

There is little demand for new devices and 5G technology, as enterprises focus on saving cash rather than upgrading corporate smartphones, says Gartner

Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users totalled 295 million units, a decline of 20.4% in the second quarter of 2020, according to analyst Gartner.

Gartner reported that Samsung recorded the largest decline among the top five global smartphone manufacturers. It sold nearly 55 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2020, a decline of 27.1% year on year (YoY), according to Gartner’s Worldwide top 5 smartphone sales to end users by vendor in 2Q20 research.

Gartner reported that Apple’s smartphone sales were nearly flat YoY, selling 38 million iPhones in the second quarter of 2020, a decline of 0.4% YoY. Although Huawei also declined in smartphone sales YoY, the analyst firm said Huawei experienced 27.4% growth, quarter-over-quarter, moving it into a virtual tie with Samsung for the top position. 

“Apple’s iPhone sales fared better in the quarter than most smartphone vendors in the market and also grew sales quarter on quarter,” said Annette Zimmermann, research vice-president at Gartner.

“The improved business environment in China helped Apple achieve growth in the country. In addition, the introduction of the new iPhone SE encouraged users of older phones to upgrade their smartphones.”

Looking at demand from enterprises for smartphone devices, Zimmermann said: “At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, we were seeing requests from clients asking about new devices. But for the past two to three months, it has been quiet. Everyone is trying to hold on to their money and there has been quite a bit of a slowdown.”

When asked about the recent tie-up between Microsoft and Samsung, which will see the Office 365 suite bundled with Samsung devices, Zimmermann said that relationship means Microsoft can remain relevant in the mobile enterprise market. This is particularly significant as Samsung is next to iPhone as the top mobile device provider to the enterprise.

In the mid market, with Huawei going away in Europe, Zimmermann said that those enterprises with a mobile Android strategy are likely to buy Samsung devices. Zimmermann also expected that those organisations that have not standardised on a mobile operating system could look at the iPhone SE as an alternative to Huawei.

Over the past few years, it has become harder for device manufacturers to differentiate their products. “It is all about the camera and incrementing the camera experience,” she added.

This has been the predominant focus for the device makers. Zimmermann said 5G was supposed to be a big selling point. However, with the pandemic, she said: “5G seems to have become pretty irrelevant.”

Outside of very specific uses in areas such as internet of things applications, within the enterprise, she said: “There is not much interest in 5G. Businesses have other things to worry about.”

On the consumer-side, Zimmermann said she is starting to see 5G contracts that are on par with 4G offerings. However, demand is likely to remain low. “The biggest issue is 5G coverage,” she added.

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