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Mobile Device Shipments Drop … But

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The pandemic juiced mobile device sales, but recently, that market experienced a significant downturn in sales. Movement back to the office and supply chain constraints are two reasons for the dip. Whether the decline is a short-term blip or a long-term trend is unclear, making it difficult for energy companies to plan mobile purchase in the coming months.

When the pandemic hit, work at utility companies shifted dramatically. In an instant, employees worked remotely, and customer interactions shifted from face to face to virtual. The changes sparked a rapid rise in mobile device, laptops, tables, and smartphones.

A Short Term Boon

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However, that boon has gone bust. As evidence In the third quarter

  • Smartphone shipments declined 6.7% year over year, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).
  • Laptop sales reached 34.8 million units, a 7.2% decrease from the same period a year ago, according to IDC.  

Why? One possibility is that energy companies started to recall their employees from their homes to the office. As a result, they did not have to outfit them with new mobile devices.

Supply chain problems represent another possible factor. As the pandemic raged, manufacturers had trouble creating and shipping their wares. Many mobile device components come from China, which is the pandemic’s epicenter. In many cases, plants were shut down for a period of time as suppliers tried to put checks in place that would help companies create safe environments.

As a result, other logistical challenges arose. Stricter testing and quarantining policies delayed the transportation of goods. Supply chain constraints in China restricted manufacturing of key components, such as microprocessors. Finally, shipping traffic routes were disrupted. In certain cases, companies are not able to find enough workers to load and unload merchandise, so it sits on boats, in containers, or on trucks, waiting for someone to pick it up and carry it to its destination.  

What Next?

The challenges of supplying employees with needed mobile systems seems like a longer term problem than it seemed a few months ago. Vaccines have been rolled out around the globe, but they have not been as effective in stopping the spread as initially hoped. They seem to be less effective against new strains than anticipated.

As a result, there has been a steady climb in Covid cases since the start of the fall. In response, some government agencies and businesses are reimplementing restrictions, such as social distancing rules and quarantining. The changes could lead to another increase in mobile device sales, although the suppliers’ ability to meet demand is questionable.

So, energy executives again find themselves in a position of managing their business in response to health concerns rather than traditional metrics. Consequently, it is unclear what will change next and how it will impact their business.  

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