With many people holding onto their phones for longer or choosing a refurbished handset to save on increasingly high costs for brand new devices, this has played into the hands of mobile repair firms.
A segment of the mobile industry that has seen significant growth in recent years is the repair market.
The global refurbished market saw healthy growth in the second half of last year, according to Counterpoint Research – though more modest growth of four per cent year-on-year over the wholefor 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A higher increase is expected in 2021.
But like many other areas of the tech industry, this sector has experienced issues born out of the pandemic.
I’ve seen how big a market this is first- hand on LinkedIn, where I regularly see representatives of repair firms advertising their inventory of parts and services.
In general, industry players report that they have been able to ride the storm, but the interplay of COVID-19 with a wider parts shortage caused by other factors is having an ongoing impact.
Yet this level of disruption appears to differ for a number of businesses that Mobile News spoke with.
The impact on the industry was already noticeable when the pandemic began to spread worldwide last March and has continued, says Mobio Distribution founder and director Josh Harrison. Some of the key effects have been on the availability and cost of parts, he says.
“The pandemic has impacted our access to obtaining parts. Initially, at the beginning of the pandemic, access to them was almost completely gone,” says Harrison. “As China locked down and closed all the factories, any stock that was available jumped in price and it became a bit of a rush to access whatever had been manufactured.” And Harrison observes that these issues are still prominent now. “Prices have never reset down to what they were before the pandemic,” he says. “We’re finding that we’re still paying between 10 to 30 per cent more for all of these products.”
He adds that certain parts have been going out of stock a lot quicker than usual, including screens for popular iPhones. Harrison says, however, that Mobio has been able to navigate the pandemic to get stock in regularly, even if it’s not necessarily from the usual suppliers.
“I’d say our business has been fine overall, as we’ve been active and able to keep in contact with our sources in China,” he says. “We’ve made sure we’re getting stock from somewhere, even if it’s not from our main source. We’ve been able to pull in stock about 95 per cent of the time.” But one worry he has had concerns consistency in the quality of parts coming in. “There’s been an inconsistency in quality
during the pandemic,” he says. “Prior to it, the factories would nearly always be using high-quality components no matter what, but now we’re seeing component shortages and this has led to lesser-quality stock from cheaper resources.” Unfazed