Smartphones Drive MEA Handsets to Record Sales

A new record was set for the MEA tablet handset market in Q2 this year, rising 27% YoY to 64 million units. IDC says that most growth came from smartphones, which are rapidly gaining popularity in the region. Smartphone market share jumped 13 percentage points YoY in Q2, to reach 40%. The figure was as high as 75% – 80% in MEA’s more developed markets (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait).

Egypt and South Africa posted the largest YoY handset growth in Africa: 37% and 32%, respectively. In the Middle East it was the UAE and Qatar, at 27% and 32%, respectively. IDC’s Nabila Popal said that growth in “countries like Egypt” is due to the continuing political and economic recovery, while the UAE and Qatar are benefitting from successful bids to host Expo 2020 and Fifa 2022.

While all MEA markets posted growth, some – such as Iraq and Syria – saw ‘extreme’ levels of instability. Smartphones, acting as a “window to the rest of the world”, are becoming increasingly important in these countries, said Popal. Even the countries with lower smartphone penetration levels have seen adoption double since last year – primarily due to the introduction of very low-cost models from Chinese and Indian makers. Telecom operators are also beginning to offer better data plans and subsidised phones.

Samsung remained leader of the smartphone market in MEA, with a 45% share; however, this was down from 53% in Q2’13. The falling share was attributed to poorer-than-expected performance of the Galaxy S5 and rising competition. Huawei’s share rose from 2% to 10%, putting it in second place ahead of Apple (8%) and Nokia (6%). Blackberry saw the largest share decrease, from 12% to sub-2%. Looking at feature phones, Nokia led with a 35% share (down from 47% last year), followed by Techno (11.5%), Samsung (10.7%) and Qmobile (7.3%).