34% Implosion in China April phone sales

One month may not mean anything, but the drop in China was so forecasts need a close reexamination. Phonemakers are reducing chip orders. Oppo has reduced 2021 estimates 20%. This may just be a blip, given supply issues and Covid. But the figure from the reliable CAICT is extreme.

China is 20-25% of world phone sales most years with about 350 million sold. The first quarter was up 24% over 2020. China Mobile and all the analysts were confident 2021 would be big. (Including me.) In April, things fell apart. Can the center still hold?

If the fall continues – a big if – what would be the explanation? Li Kaizen of OnePlus points to long replacement cycles. I see no reason replacement cycles changed since February.

Could the Chinese have been reacting to disappointing practical results of 5G. The hype in the West has been off the wall. China is much worse. Xi Jinping and the party have presented 5G as the heart of the future economy.

Doubt cannot be expressed. China has been tightening control of the press and few tech reporters will speak truth to power. Every third story in the tech media is about the wonders of 5G.

The Chinese telcos have turned on 819,000 5G cells, far more than the entire rest of the world. As readers know, 5G is ISDN. It still does nothing practical.

Andrew Collinson warned about 5G backlash. I’d be amazed if disillusionment is so profound.

But what would be an alternate explanation.

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