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Virus outbreak: Plunge seen in shipments of consumer electronics

Global shipments of consumer electronics, including smartphones, laptops and desktop PCs, are this year to fall by 10 to 20 percent annually as market demand is weighed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute said yesterday.

“Taiwanese manufacturers have, for the most part, resumed operations in China since the outbreak began last quarter … but lockdowns in multiple other countries are affecting production, as well as logistics, which could delay shipments of components and end products,” MIC deputy general-director and senior industry consultant Chris Hung told an online conference.

He cited the lockdown in India, which is to last 21 days until Tuesday next week, as one example.

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co and Wistron Corp, Apple Inc’s main iPhone assemblers, have both shut down manufacturing facilities in India.

Consumer spending would also be affected by the pandemic, because companies cutting down on employees’ salaries would lead to a drop in end sales, Hung said.

“After the virus is contained, most people would prefer to spend their money on eating out at restaurants, purchasing cosmetics and other commodities,” Hung said.

He forecast a 9 to 16 percent year-on-year drop in smartphone shipments.

“Smartphones are just not a [consumer] priority,” he added.

Shipments of laptops and desktops would also face similar setbacks, Hung said, predicting a 10 percent and an 8 to 10 percent annual decline respectively.

On a brighter note, shipments of servers, as well as networking and communications devices, are expected to see growth of 2.5 to 3 percent and 1 to 4 percent respectively as teleconferencing becomes increasingly popular, MIC said.

“Videoconferencing and distance learning would propel market demand for more cloud-based applications,” Hung said.

There would also be a growing need for more basic Internet infrastructure, as people increase their online activities, he added.

The pandemic, which is driving online migration, would also create business opportunities for local companies, he said.

There are three potential domains — artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and biomedical services — in which more companies are expected to develop new applications, he added.

“For example, hospitals and pharmacies could introduce robots that provide assistance to people seeking rudimentary medical advice, which could help ease the workload of pharmacists and doctors,” Hung said.

With the current emphasis on social distancing, Hung said that companies could also seek to develop Internet of Things applications for automated teller machines, autonomous vehicles and infrared thermometers. Taipei Times

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