Thursday, 21 January 2021 10:39

Refurbished smartphone market dropped 9% in 2020, says Counterpoint

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Refurbished smartphone market dropped 9% in 2020, says Counterpoint Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The global refurbished smartphone market saw a drop of 9% year-on-year in 2020, the technology analyst firm Counterpoint Research says, adding that the first half of the year saw a 16% fall before a rebound occurred in the latter half.

Counterpoint only counts devices which are repaired and enhanced as refurbished models; other second-hand models are counted, but not included in these statistics.

This could account for the fact that there is a big difference between the Counterpoint figures and the forecast issued by IDC earlier this month. IDC predicted that both refurbished and second-hand models would sell 225.4 million units, an increase of 9.2% over the 206.5 million units shipped in 2019.

Counterpoint did not provide any numbers, only percentages. Senior research analyst Glen Cardoza said: “New device sales fell by around 9% in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns and related economic deterrents. This reduced the number of upgrades and smartphones hitting the secondary market.

"The pandemic caused a significant number of smartphone owners to avoid or delay new purchases. Key secondary markets India and Latin America saw 20% and 24% declines respectively during the first half of 2020 due to strict and extended lockdowns.”

He said not all segments of the secondary market had seen a drop. “There were some bright spots in the refurbished smartphone ecosystem. Apple grew its share in the secondary market from 39% to 42%. There were some marketplaces in the secondary market which saw growth, such as Back Market and Recommerce.

"An increased number of new businesses dealing in pre-owned smartphones also sprang up. Despite the proliferation of 5G networks, average selling prices of refurbished LTE smartphones grew.”

Research director Jeff Fieldhack said, “China, the most important country in the refurbished market ecosystem, saw significant declines during 2020. The Chinese refurbished smartphone market was hit by tensions between China and Hong Kong and trade battles with the US.

"Many resellers in the secondary market ecosystem avoided China due to more scrutiny by the Chinese Government, the potential for higher import duties, and the rising cost of replacement parts.”


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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