Coronavirus afflicting electronics supply chains, potentially impacting 5G deployment, says Omdia

14 February 2020


Coronavirus is spreading throughout global technology supply chains, impacting diverse & interconnected sectors of the electronics industry, according to global tech research firm, Omdia. With the epidemic arriving at dawn of 5G’s mainstream deployment phase, coronavirus has the potential to disrupt progress of the next-generation wireless standard, as the crisis slows, or threatens to slow, production of key smartphone components, including displays & semiconductors.

Amid this rapidly unfolding crisis, Omdia’s analysts are focusing their attention on how coronavirus is affecting both demand and supply, closely examining constituent supply chains for the worldwide 5G smartphone market. The following update presents the latest findings uncovered by Omdia experts regarding the impact of coronavirus on 5G and other technology segments.

5G at risk
The global 5G value chain is projected to generate $3.6 trillion in economic output and support 22.3 million jobs worldwide by 2035. As a result, the stakes for players throughout the technology industry value chain couldn’t be higher.

China’s smartphone market weakens
China is the world’s largest smartphone market, accounting for 27% market share in 2019, according to the Mobile Handset Database – Country report from Omdia.

In its third-quarter forecast update, Omdia predicted that the Chinese market would stop declining and start to rebound in 2020. However, due to the coronavirus crisis, Omdia now believes the Chinese market is likely to suffer another contraction in unit shipments.

The number of smartphones shipped to China annually is expected to decline to 373.9 million units in 2019, a 4% decrease from 390.8 million units in 2018.

The biggest negative impact will be felt in Chinese domestic sales. As the outbreak period lengthens, weakening demand will extend to other regions.

The extent of the impact will depend on the duration of the epidemic. Omdia is currently evaluating different time scenarios and their expected impacts on Chinese smartphone demand.

Display production slashed in February
In a new update from February 11, Omdia’s Displays service estimates that utilisation at China’s display fabs will decline by 20% to 25% in February. However, the country’s production and output will drop 40% to 50% due to component shortages.

Manufacturing of display panels used in products including 5G smartphones has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus epidemic, with suppliers contending with both labour and component shortages.

After closing for the government-extended Lunar New Year holiday, most display panel makers with manufacturing operations in Wuhan and elsewhere in China resumed operations starting on February 3. However, numerous employees and workers remain unable to return to their workplaces because of travel restrictions in China, reports.

LCD polarizers and LCD module printed circuit boards (PCBs) are now in a state of shortage due to the production bottleneck, and also because of logistics issues. Panel makers are dealing with low inventory for polarizers. This issue is persisting even after the resumption of production at most facilities.

Games market influenced by coronavirus
The impact of coronavirus has had a broadly positive effect on player engagement and in-game spending in the Chinese games market. However, when considering the supply chain disruption caused by the contagion, the overall effect on the global market is negative.

For the period from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10, according to Priori Data, iOS mobile game daily active users (DAUs) rose at a healthy rate 5.3%, while net revenue increased by 5.2%, due to the Lunar New Year sales surge and users under quarantine being unable to leave their homes.

However, during the last seven days, revenue growth has flattened.

Comparatively, for location-based titles, the effect has been more severe. For example, daily net revenue for Let’s Hunt Monsters — China’s equivalent of Pokémon Go — suffered an 83% decline over the past 10 days, hitting an all-time low.

Generally, the Chinese government’s move to extend the Lunar New Year holiday helped to boost user engagement with legacy titles and increase in-game spending. As a result, we are likely to observe an uptick in China’s PC gaming market in the first quarter, but this is unlikely to reverse the overall declining trend in the PC games market in the region.

Semiconductor supply steady for now — but risks are mounting
Omdia so far has not detected any coronavirus impact on the supply of semiconductors used in 5G smartphones and other products. However, the epidemic does raise some serious long-term concerns. If coronavirus continues to spread and spur significant public-health problems in China, electronics manufacturers in the country may be forced to slow manufacturing or even shut down some operations. This could have a significant impact on global semiconductor supply.

Looking at the major Chinese semiconductor foundries, the proportion of revenue they obtain from domestic customers is significant. If there is a deceleration in manufacturing within China, it is likely to not only impact chip suppliers but also companies that purchase large volumes of chips to produce end products. These companies include electronic manufacturing services (EMS) providers and original design manufacturers (ODMs).

Medical imaging takes on the coronavirus
According to Chinese officials, a total of 44,653 cases have been confirmed. Radiography and CT imaging will play a fundamental role in mass screening and diagnosis of suspected patients of the deadly coronavirus. In such circumstances, artificial-intelligence (AI) powered recognition can drive case prioritisation and identification of key indicators and symptoms of the coronavirus, in particular pneumonia. This helps medical professionals to tackle and control the outbreak of this global epidemic.

About Omdia
Omdia is a global technology research powerhouse, established following the merger of the research division of Informa Tech (Ovum, Heavy Reading and Tractica) and the acquired IHS Markit technology research portfolio.

We combine the expertise of over more than 400 analysts across the entire technology spectrum covering 150 markets and publish over 3,000 research reports annually, reaching over 14,000 subscribers, and covering thousands of technology, media and telecommunications companies

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