Any hopes that the coronavirus is a short-lived event appear to be fading, as the news got worse this past week. The estimated death toll from the deadly virus is reportedly around 1,400 and growing, and the number of people affected in China reportedly may be as high as 60,000. Meanwhile, the repercussions from the virus on the global economy, and in particular the electronics and telecom industries, are growing.
Most significant are the growing cancellations of industry trade shows and conferences, highlighted by the decision to cancel the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, originally slated to take place February 24 through 27. The organizers of the massive wireless and telecom event, GSMA, pulled the plug on the show after numerous key companies, led by LG, Ericsson, Nokia, Deutsche Telecom, and BT, dropped out due to coronavirus concerns impacting attendee health and safety as well as business and travel logistics.
Several recent and upcoming industry trade shows in China have also been cancelled or postponed, and at least one company, STMicrolectronics, said it would not attend the upcoming Embedded World show in Germany February 25 through 27.
Not surprisingly, the coronavirus crisis continues to cloud near-term economic forecasts. Omdia, formerly known as IHS Market | Technology, said on Wednesday that smartphone shipments, which declined in 2019 but were expected to bounce back this year, could undergo further sales declines as long as the coronavirus crisis lasts. The bulk of the decline is attributed to falling China domestic phone sales.
Omdia also hinted the rollout of 5G smartphones expected this year could be impacted if the fallout from the virus continues, as manufacturers delay ramp-up of new products.
How coronavirus affects high-growth electronic sectors will also be interesting. Nvidia, which derives growth from artificial intelligence (AI), said its fourth-quarter 2019 sales were $ 3.1 billion, up 41% from the year-ago quarter. However, Nvidia was cautious on its first-quarter 2020 outlook, reducing revenue guidance by $100 million down to $3 billion, ±2%.
Coronavirus did not stop Samsung from unveiling several new smartphones this week, including the Galaxy Z flip phone whose claim to fame is a foldable display. Priced initially at $1,380, the phone is smaller the foldable Galaxy Fold, which premiered in October for $1,980.
Samsung is also set to reveal its Galaxy S20 Ultra next month, which incorporates no less than four high-resolution camera sensors. The main camera uses an image sensor with resolution of 108 megapixels.
Also newsworthy in sensors was an announcement by the University of Waterloo in Canada on progress toward developing a nanotechnology-based leak sensor. Researchers say the sensor, which uses energy harvesting for power, can potentially be produced for as little as $5. The sensor promises to significantly reduce the cost of leak monitoring.