Feature phone market stabilises, smartphones struggle - Mobile World Live

Feature phone market stabilises, smartphones struggle

17 APR 2018

IDC said the EMEA smartphone market experienced a drop in volumes again during 2017, although there was a “relative boom in shipments of lowly feature phones”, and Apple also performed well at the other end.

The research company reported that not only are feature phones enjoying a “strong resurgence” in Africa, sales volumes are also falling more slowly than before across Europe. In contrast, and despite the region being dominated in demographic terms by the 1.2 billion population in Africa, there was no boost for the entry-level smartphone market, impacting several companies targeting this segment including Alcatel and Lenovo.

Looking at the European market, including Norway and Switzerland along with the EU, consumers are spending more money on phones even as they buy them less frequently, Simon Baker, programme director of mobile phone research for IDC CEMA, noted.

With the European economy showing “shoots of recovery”, and the euro climbing against the US dollar, the drop underlined the pressures of the maturing smartphone market.

Apple stood out, as the November 2017 launch of iPhone X added $4.3 billion to the vendor’s sales in the European market across the year, more than one sixth of the vendor’s total. Competition to Samsung from Huawei helped “revitalise the top end of the Android market”, although there is a trend of keeping older premium models in production at a reduced price to keep up volumes as consumers look for better value.

The Middle East market is “still subdued in the aftermath of the oil price drop”, while the market in Russia had risen back to near the same dollar value as before a 2014 rouble slump.

For the year, smartphone volumes were “down modestly” at 361 million units, against 374 million in 2016. Feature phone shipments increased 8.7 per cent to 206 million. The market value was “marginally lower” in dollar terms at $109 million, although the drop was more pronounced in euros, at $96 billion compared with €101 billion.

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