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GCC smartphone market up 21% in Q1 – IDC

GCC smartphone market up 21% in Q1 – IDC

The smartphone market’s share in the region is now just under 77 per cent

The GCC’s smartphone market grew 21 per cent year-on-year in volumes during Q1 2015, according to a new report from IDC.

The smartphone market’s share in the region is now just under 77 per cent, even as the feature phone category declined 14 per cent over the same period, the report found.

Qatar and the UAE recorded the highest growth rates in the region.

“The sheer magnitude of declining average selling prices is a major factor that continues to drive the adoption of smartphones, with 500 per cent growth seen in shipments of smartphones priced below $150,” said IDC MEA and Turkey research analyst Saad Elkhadem.

“This is a trend is being driven by vendors like Samsung, Lenovo, and Huawei, and is set to continue over the coming quarters.”

The GCC’s tablet market also recorded a year-on year growth of 9.9 per cent in Q1. However, this is in contrast with the performance of the overall MEA market, which suffered its first ever decline over the same period.

“The growth experienced in the GCC market was mainly due to a strong push from up-and-coming vendors such as Lenovo, Huawei, and Xtouch, providing an arena for lower prices to flourish,” said IDC MEA and Turkey research analyst Feras Ibrahim.

“In country terms, the principal driver of this growth was the notable performance of the Saudi market, where the consumer segment grew rapidly.”

The report also found that the GCC’s portable PC market experienced a year-on-year decline of 6.4 per cent in the first quarter.

It attributed the drop to the continuing shift towards tablets and smartphones, with this trend being felt more strongly in the consumer segment than in the commercial space.

The UAE saw the biggest drop in the region, mainly due to the “cannibalisation of the market by tablets and smartphones” and the slowdown in tourism that the country saw in comparison to the same quarter of 2014, IDC added.

Overall, the report stated that the GCC’s mobile connected devices market – including smartphones, tablets, and portable PCs – expanded 16.7 per cent year-on-year in Q1.

Shipments reached over 8.7m units, with the market’s growth spurred by lower prices, increasing penetration levels and the continued efforts of new vendors to make their way into the region.

The Saudi market accounted for over 50 per cent of the mobile connected devices shipped across the GCC in Q1, with the UAE ranking second with approximately 26 per cent.

Saudi Arabia’s dominance can be attributed to its size and the rapid rate at which IT adoption is occurring across the kingdom, IDC said.

Qatar recorded the region’s highest rate of year-on-year growth with shipments up by over 45 per cent. The growth was driven by projects associated with improving the country’s infrastructure and its continuing preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Meanwhile Kuwait recorded the only negative performance in the region with shipments falling 10 per cent year-on-year.

Internal government issues that resulted in the delay of various infrastructure projects (including IT), as well as market saturation in the market caused the drop, the report said.

Going ahead IDC said it expects the GCC’s mobile connected devices market to continue growing, with shipments forecast to increase from 35m units in 2015 to 45m in 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 7.6 per cent.

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