Coronavirus set to impact 5G and electronic supply chains

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With the news of the cancellation of Mobile World Congress analysts at Omdia have taken a look at how the virus could impact electronic supply chains and the roll-out of 5G.

With the coronavirus spreading through global technology supply chains and arriving just as 5G’s mainstream deployment phase has begun, the virus has the potential to disrupt the progress of the next-generation wireless standard, as the crisis slows or threatens to slow the production of key smartphone components, including displays and semiconductors, according to Omdia..

So how could the coronavirus affect both demand and supply? This Omdia Update below presents their latest findings regarding the impact of the 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 is the world’s largest smartphone market, accounting for 27 percent market share in 2019. 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 percent 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 China’s display fabs utilization will decline by 20 percent to 25 percent in February. However, the country’s production and output will drop 40 percent to 50 percent 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 labor 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.

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 powered recognition can drive case prioritization 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.