SHANGHAI, March 9 (Reuters) - Apple sold fewer than half a million smartphones in China in February, government data showed on Monday, as the coronavirus outbreak crippled demand.
China placed curbs on travel and asked residents to avoid public places in late January, just ahead of the Lunar New Year festival, a major gift-giving holiday. Those restrictions stayed largely in place through most of February.
In total, mobile phone brands shipped a total of 6.34 million devices that month, down 54.7% from 14 million in February 2019, data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology showed.
Android brands, which include devices made by Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi, accounted for most of the drop, as they collectively saw shipments decline from 12.72 million units in February 2019 to 5.85 million, the data showed.
Shipments of Apple devices slumped to 494,000, from 1.27 million in February 2019. In January, their shipments had held steady at just over 2 million.
Research firms IDC and Canalys have previously forecasted that overall smartphone shipments would drop roughly 40% in the first quarter as the virus outbreak hurt demand and sparked supply chain issue.
Apple's branded stores in China were shut for at least two weeks in February as fears over the coronavirus outbreak mounted.
The company's CEO Tim Cook wrote a letter to investors that month warning it would not meet its initial revenue guidance for the current quarter due to demand issues. (Reporting by Brenda Goh, editing by Louise Heavens)