Tough Times Continue For GCC Mobile Phone Market

As per the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) report the overall mobile phone market of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region has experienced a very slight quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) decline of 0.2% in Q3 2020 to total 4.97 million units in Q3 2020.

The firm’s latest Quarterly Global Mobile Phone Tracker reveals that smartphone shipments declined 0.9% to 4.16 million units, while feature phone shipments increased 4.1% to total 0.8 million units. In terms of value, the smartphone market totaled $1.16 billion in Q3 2020, an 11.6% QoQ decline. However, the feature phone market’s value grew 1.9% QoQ to reach $15.8 million.

Despite most countries easing lockdown measures in Q3 2020, the channels claims to choose to take a cautious view, as consumer demand remained modest throughout the quarter. Consumers are said to continue to prioritize spending on essentials while cutting back on discretionary spending in various categories, including mobile phones.

Saudi Arabia accounted for 52.6% of all smartphones shipped within the GCC region in Q3 2020. However, the Kingdom is said to suffer an overall QoQ decline in shipments due to the tripling of VAT, which led to an increase in prices. The UAE saw its share of smartphone shipments increase to 24.1%. Meanwhile, Samsung extended its lead of the GCC smartphone market in Q3 2020, accounting for 44.6% unit share. In terms of value, it ranked second with 30.8%.

“With its large portfolio of models in the entry-level and mid-range price bands, Samsung not only maintained its leading position but also captured share lost by Huawei,” stated Akash Balachandran, a senior research analyst at IDC adding, “The demand for low end smartphones continues to remain strong as customers look for value and the channel remains cautious when it comes to stocking premium and ultra-premium devices.”

Looking ahead, the GCC smartphone market is forecast to see QoQ unit growth of 6.5% in Q4 2020.

“Q4 has traditionally been a strong quarter for the GCC smartphone market. Despite the ever looming possibility of additional lockdowns and spikes in COVID-19 cases, an improvement in the market’s performance is expected toward the end of the year, particularly as countries begin to normalize travel and further positive news of a COVID-19 vaccine is released. Brands like Apple and Samsung will also post a strong performance in the upcoming quarters with newly released models in their portfolios. Chinese vendors, focused on driving penetration in the region, will continue their marketing investments, all of which will translate into a well performing market in the short to mid-term,” noted Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC.