MEA smartphone shipments surge 66 per cent, to exceed 150m units

July 23, 2015 1:54 pm

Smartphone shipments in Middle East and Africa (MEA) are set to total 155m units in 2015 after increasing 66 per cent year on year during the first quarter to reach more than 36m units, according to the latest figures by global technology consulting firm, International Data Corporation (IDC).

Smartphones accounted for 63 per cent of the handsets shipped to the Middle East and 47 per cent of those shipped to Africa during the quarter. This comes at the expense of feature phones, which suffered year-on-year declines of roughly 20 per cent in both regions and will make up just 27 per cent of the overall MEA handset market by the end of 2019, shows IDC’s “Q1 2015 Mobile Phone Tracker” report.

The growth in the number of Smartphones in the MEA region is being spurred by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, with the two platforms accounting for more than 95 per cent of the Smartphones shipped in Q1 2015.

The shipments of devices featuring these operating systems increased by a combined 67 per cent year on year. In the Middle East, Android currently represents 80 per cent of market’s volume, while iOS accounts for 17 per cent; in Africa, these figures stand at 89 per cent and seven per cent, respectively.

BlackBerry suffered significant year-on-year declines across the region in Q1 2015, with its shipments falling 14 per cent in Africa and 29 per cent in the Middle East.

“The launch of a number of new models by [BlackBerry] seems to have had little impact on lifting the brand out of its continuing decline,” says Isaac T. Ngatia, a senior research analyst at IDC. “The loss of the corporate segment, spurred by the continued uptake of bring-your-own-device policies among the region’s enterprises, has had an adverse effect on BlackBerry’s performance in the market.”

The strong growth in the region’s Smartphone market is largely being driven by the emergence of low-priced devices that are primarily powered by Android. Indeed, almost half of all the Smartphones shipped across Africa (45.1 per cent) in the first quarter of this year were priced below $100, while almost 75 per cent fall under $200. Low-priced Smartphones are also having a considerable impact in the Middle East, with the $100–200 price band accounting for the market’s biggest share.

“This price bracket seems to be the sweet point for most vendors launching in the region, as well as for established vendors looking to increase their shares by targeting the lower end of the market,” says Nabila Popal, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Phone Tracker in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

She adds, “This has resulted in phones priced under $200 accounting for about 36 per cent of the Middle East Smartphone market, while, at the other end of the spectrum, the $450+ price band has seen its share fall from 25 per cent in Africa and 48 per cent in the Middle East a year ago, to 14 per cent and 34 per cent [respectively] today.”

In the Middle East region, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were the biggest markets, with the former accounting for a share of nearly 20 per cent and the latter, 17.6 per cent. Saudi Arabia saw a year-on-year shipment growth of 9.5 per cent, while the Turkish market expanded 33 per cent over the same period.


Mujeeb Rahman
By Mujeeb Rahman
Mujeeb Rahman is a business journalist at AMEinfo. His areas of focus include economy, markets, politics and international relations in MENA and Asia-Pacific regions. An ex-BBC digital journalist, he delves deeper into the subjects that matter most.