Smartphone shipments to the Middle East and Africa saw unprecedented year-on-year growth of 83% in 2014, according to the Q4 2014 Handsets Tracker released by International Data Corporation (IDC). Spurred by the increased availability of cheaper models and dual-SIM devices, the global advisory and consulting services firm announced that smartphones accounted for 41.9% of all mobile handset shipments to the region in 2014, up from 27% in 2013, with the overall handset market expanding 19.6% in volume year on year.
Feature phones have been hit hard by the increased availability of more affordable smartphones, with shipments down 4.5% year on year in 2014. Indeed, smartphones priced under $100 captured 20% share of the MEA smartphone market in 2014, up from just 5% in 2013. Additionally, market share of smartphones in the $100–200 price bracket increased eight percentage points in just one quarter, from 25% in Q3 2014 to 33% in Q4 2014. Meanwhile,smartphones priced in the higher-end $250–500 bracket have seen their share of the overall market fall from 23% in Q3 2013 to 18% in Q4 2014
“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,” explained Nabila Popal, Research Manager for handsets and display solutions, MEA, IDC.
The growing popularity of dual-SIM smartphones is also helping shape the market, with shipments of such devices increasing 34% year on year in Q4 2014.
“Vendors such as Samsung and HTC launched variants of their flagship S5 and HTC One M8 models with dual-SIM capabilities. Demand for such devices stems from the fact that a growing band of consumers want to enjoy cheap cross-network calls and offers from multiple telcos and therefore retain more than one SIM card for their personal use,” shared Isaac T. Ngatia, a senior research analyst at IDC, Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.
The overall handset market’s vendor dynamics also changed by the end of 2014. Although Samsung maintained its number-one position in MEA, its smartphone share fell from 51.5% in 2013 to 43.8% for 2014. Huawei and Apple followed in second and third place with shares of 8.9% and 7.8%, 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.
“Apple’s growth is primarily due to the incredible success of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models, which finally placed the vendor in the large screensize segment thathad previously been dominated by Samsung. Many users that had made the switch from Apple to Samsung specifically for the larger screensizes have now started to switch back,” added Ms Popal.
Like in other global markets, the MEA market witnessed a massive 58% increase in the shipment of iOSdevices in Q4 2014 compared to Q3 2014. Android shipments increased by only 3.8% over the same period, while Blackberry OS continued its declining trend after a temporary increase in Q3 2014.