What just happened? Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 phones went on sale in its home region of South Korea yesterday, and things have got off to a slow start. But the sluggish sales have little to do with the handsets themselves: it’s yet another effect of the coronavirus.
According to the South Korea Herald, sales of the Galaxy S20 phones were down 50 percent compared to their predecessors a year earlier. While the latest devices sold around 70,800 units in Korea on Thursday, the Galaxy S10 line, which launched in March 2019, sold 140,000 units during their first 24 hours. The Galaxy Note 10 phones did even better, moving 220,000 units when they launched in August.
But while reviews for the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G have been mixed, partly over its $1,400 starting price, the slow sales are mostly due to the coronavirus. South Korea has the highest number of confirmed cases outside of China—over 2,000–which means fewer people are visiting retail stores because of infection fears. Samsung has also canceled some Galaxy S20 promotional events, so the phones haven’t been advertised as aggressively as usual.
Another problem is the lack of discounts and lower than expected subsidies available in South Korea. Even the standard Galaxy S20 starts at $1,000, with $1,200 for the S20+ and $1,400 for the Ultra, which means many consumers are looking for some good deals before buying one.
While Samsung will be disappointed with the figures, virtually every company is experiencing economic fallout from the coronavirus. Sales should improve once the outbreak gets under control—whenever that may be.