DUBAI: Mobile phone shipments in the Middle East region are expected to grow at a faster rate then PCs and tablets, according to industry experts. The regional handset shipments are expected to grow 5.3 per cent to more than 123 million this year compared to 117 million units last year.
At the same time, the PC market is expected to grow by 2.85 per cent to 14.4 million this year compared to 147 million last year. The tablet market is expected to grow by 4.81 per cent to 17.4 million this year compared to 16.6 million last year.
“The handset market is slowing down despite a positive growth as the smartphone category is getting saturated in the Gulf countries. The market will not grow in double digits as it used to be,” Nabila Popal, research manager for mobile phones and displays at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey, told Gulf News. According to IDC market stats, the Middle East also includes Africa, Turkey, Israel and Pakistan.
She said that Africa and Pakistan markets are set to grow much faster as these countries are still dominated by basic phones and there is a big room for shift to smartphones.
Out of the total 123 million handset sales this year, smartphones is expected to account for over 70 per cent. Popal said that about 7.7 million units are expected to be shipped into the UAE this year compared to 7.4 million last year. The country registered a growth of 27 per cent in 2014 but it will slow down to 13 per cent in 2015 as fourth-quarter figures are to be released, and further again by just over four per cent this year.
Fouad R. Charakla, program manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at International Data Corporation (IDC), said that some PC deals are expected to happen in the latter part of the year and government-driven education initiatives are expected to continue contributing healthily to the growth of the tablet market, particularly in regard to detachable tablets.
The region shipped 29.75 million mobile phones in the third quarter of last year, marking a 4.4 per cent increase on the previous quarter. The growth was spearheaded by the UAE, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia with respective quarter-on-quarter increases of 11.2 per cent, 10.2 per cent and 5.7 per cent. Combined, these three countries accounted for over 30 per cent of the region’s mobile shipments for the quarter.
“A major factor driving the increase in smartphone shipments is the decline of the average selling price (ASP) for such devices,” Popal said. She said that the smartphone ASP for the Middle East declined almost seven per cent quarter on quarter in the third quarter of last year. Devices priced below $250 accounted for almost 60 per cent of the region’s smartphone shipments during the quarter, and this is a price band that is almost solely populated by the Android operating system (OS).
Samsung, Apple, and Huawei remained the top three smartphone vendors during the quarter, with a combined share of over 60 per cent.
Android remained the dominant force in the region’s OS battle, accounting for more than 87 per cent of the Middle East’s smartphone shipments in the quarter, an increase of 7.3 percentage points on the previous quarter. Apple’s iOS saw its share of the market decline by 7.4 per cent over the same period as consumers awaited the launch of new iPhone models in the region.