Middle East mobile phone shipments drop 12.5 per cent in Q1
Middle East’s mobile phone shipments shrank 12.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 to 26.1 million from 29.78 million units in the corresponding period last year, according to latest figures from International Data Corporation (IDC).
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the region’s mobile phone market saw a 11.7 per cent decline in shipments during the first three months of the year marking a significant drop from the 29.49 million units shipped in the previous quarter.
In GCC, all countries other than Qatar saw their shipments of mobile phones falling off in Q1. In UAE and Saudi Arabia shipments dropped by 12.7 and 10.4 per cent respectively while Qatar saw a flat growth of 1.3 per cent, according to IDC.
“Once a technology that seemed to be in a perpetual boom, mobile phones are no longer immune to weakening consumer sentiment as the gloomy macroeconomic outlook begins to bite,” says Nabila Popal, research manager for mobile phones at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.
In terms of operating systems, Android’s share of the Middle East smartphone market continues to rise, reaching 86.4 per cent in Q1 2016. Apple’s iOS shipments, meanwhile, were down 28.8 per cent quarter on quarter for 13 per cent share.
Samsung, Apple, and Huawei continue to lead the way in the smartphone segment, with market shares of 42.1 per cent, 13.0 per cent, and 8.6 per cent, respectively.
Of the top three vendors, only Samsung recorded quarter-on-quarter growth in share and shipments, with the successful launch of its Galaxy S7 flagship spurring a 6.6 per cent increase in units. This compares very favorably to declines over the same period of 28.8 per cent for Apple and 14.5 per cent for Huawei, IDC reveals.
“The challenging economic environment means that consumers are generally reluctant to spend more than is absolutely necessary on their mobile devices,” says Saad Elkhadem, a research analyst for mobile phones at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “As such, vendors are increasingly pushing their mid-range devices in an attempt to provide consumers with a good balance between value and features. The Samsung J series, which is mostly priced under $200, is a prime example of this new focus, and it is already responsible for a large portion – about a third – of Samsung’s Middle East shipments.”
IDC expects the Middle East mobile phone market to continue to stutter throughout 2016, with a slight recovery possible by the end of the year due to the holiday season and a number of major launches that are slated for the fourth quarter.
“The prevailing sentiment is that 2016 will be a difficult year for smartphone growth due to low oil prices, reduced government spending, and ongoing political instability,” adds Popal. “These factors are all constraining consumer spending across the region, and it is the consumer segment that is the major driving force behind demand for mobile devices. This is being compounded by the lack of major innovation currently taking place in the industry from a consumer perspective, and as such we are seeing vendors and channels brace themselves for a tough year ahead.”