The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak hit China's smartphone market hard in February: Device shipments there fell nearly 55% for the month. But few smartphone manufacturers fared worse than Apple (AAPL 0.49%) -- iPhone sales in China plunged 61%.

Data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) showed Apple's smartphone shipments tumbled from 1.27 million in February 2019 to just 494,000 units last month. While other manufacturers lost more unit sales, none suffered a percentage decline as large as Apple's.

iPhone SEs in different colors

Image source: Apple.

Hanging up on smartphones

Reuters reported that CAICT figures indicate there were 6.34 million smartphones shipped in China in February, 7.66 million fewer than a year earlier, for a drop of 54.7%. Huawei Technologies and Xiaomi accounted for most of that number, as their combined device shipments fell from 12.72 million in February 2019 units to 5.85 million last month, a 46% contraction.

However, on a month-to-month basis, Apple just saw three-quarters of its business in China evaporate. In January, it shipped 2 million devices there. And again, in February, the figure was 494,000. Analysts had previously estimated shipments would plunge by 40% in the first quarter due to businesses and industries being shut down in an attempt to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2, upsetting the supply chain.

Apple's primary iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, said last week that it anticipated getting back to full production by the end of March, but the coronavirus-related disruption threatened to delay production of Apple's new low-cost iPhone. 

Apple also said the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting delays and supply chain issues meant that it would not meet its quarterly revenue guidance of $63 billion to $67 billion.