Premium smartphone sales defy Gulf economic downturn

Demand for premium handsets has not been impacted by economic sentiment, according to Samsung



Premium smartphone sales have defied the economic slowdown in the Gulf this year, with numbers up over 2015, according to Samsung.

Speaking to Gulf Business, Samsung Gulf Electronics head of IT and mobile division Tarek Sabbagh said the company’s most expensive line, which includes the Galaxy S7 devices, was its fastest growing category.

“Despite what I used to hear from the market about the economic crisis and people not buying mobiles, the highest growth category was our flagship category which is high end mobiles,” he said.

Declining to reveal sales numbers, Sabbagh said the S7 and curved screen S7 Edge devices had performed well and the company had sold more devices in the Gulf in the first half than the same period the previous year.

“Quarter one had positive results against all that’s happening in the market,” he said.

“Q2 continued in the same way and until the end of H1 we have had positive growth going ahead of all the market versus last year.”

This translated into market share gains during the period, according to Sabbagh, who cited figures from market research firm GFK.

“Until last June, the latest report from GFK said our market share was 43 per cent, which is 2 per cent higher on the same period last year in the UAE and the region.”

An August GFK report showed smartphone demand in the Middle East and Africa reached 41 million units in Q2, down 2 per cent quarter-on-quarter. This was largely due to a 24 per cent year-on-year decline in Saudi Arabia.

However the firm forecast regional smartphone demand would grow 9 per cent year-on-year in 2016 to 176 million units.

Sabbagh was speaking at the launch of the Note7, the latest addition to its large-screen stylus smartphone line.

He said the company was confident the device would continue the positive sales trend in the second half of the year when Samsung will face stiff competition from rival Apple’s latest iPhone, set to launch this month.

“We recently launched the (Gear) Fit 2 and IconX and we have a couple more devices that might be coming in the ecosystem, so we believe that H2 is going to continue in the same trend.”