Smartphone market sees boom in MEA region

Nabila Popal
Nabila Popal, IDC’s Research Manager for Handsets and Display Solutions, MEA

According to the Q4 2014 Handsets Tracker report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments in the Middle East and Africa region saw a year-on-year growth of 83 per cent during the year 2014.

The spurred growth was resulted by the increased availability of cheaper models and dual-SIM devices. IDC announced that smartphones accounted for 41.9 per cent of all mobile handset shipments to the region in 2014, with the overall handset market expanding 19.6 per cent in volume year on year.

Feature phones have been hit hard by the increased availability of more affordable devices, with shipments down 4.5 per cent year on year in 2014. Smartphones priced under USD 100 captured 20 per cent share of the MEA smartphone market in 2014, up from just 5 per cent in 2013.  Additionally, market share of smartphones in the USD 100–200 price bracket increased eight percentage points in just one quarter, from 25 per cent in Q3 2014 to 33 per cent in Q4 2014.  Meanwhile, smartphones priced in the higher-end USD 250–500 bracket have seen their share of the overall market fall from 23 per cent in Q3 2013 to 18 per cent in Q4 2014

Nabila Popal, IDC’s research manager for handsets and display solutions in the Middle East and Africa, said, “Many new vendors have been eager to get into the region’s burgeoning smartphone space, with a number of them launching phones in this growing price band. This strategy of targeting the mid and low end of the market has contributed significantly to the success of vendors like Huawei and Lenovo.”

The report also mentioned other factors in the increase in smartphone shipments in the region such as the growing popularity of dual-SIM smartphones that is helping shape the market, with shipments of such devices increasing 34 per cent year on year in Q4 2014. Another is the growth in countries that have larger populations but previously had low penetration rates like Nigeria and Kenya which has increased 135 per cent and 112 per cent, respectively, year on year in 2014, while Pakistan saw growth of 105 per cent over the same period.

Samsung maintained its number-one position in MEA, however its smartphone share fell from 51.5 per cent in 2013 to 43.8 per cent for 2014. Huawei and Apple followed in second and third place with shares of 8.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent, respectively. The same trend can be seen quarter on quarter, with Samsung’s share dropping 7.8 points from Q3 to Q4 2014, while Huawei and Apple saw their shares increase 5.1 points and 2.7 points, respectively, over the same period.

Popal attributed Apple’s growth to the incredible success of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, which finally placed the vendor in the large screen size segment that had previously been dominated by Samsung.

Like in other global markets, the MEA market witnessed a massive 58 per cent increase in the shipment of iOS devices in Q4 2014 compared to Q3 2014. Android shipments increased by only 3.8 per cent over the same period, while Blackberry OS continued its declining trend after a temporary increase in Q3 2014.

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