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GCC smartphone market suffers sharp year-on-year decline

Newly released data from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that shipments of smartphones to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region declined 7.8% year on year in Q1 2023, with modest growth of 0.8% on the previous quarter.

Saudi Arabia is the largest smartphone market in the GCC, followed by the UAE. Both markets posted annual declines as vendors and channels prioritized shipments of higher-end devices at lower quantities, with shipments of low-end and midrange devices expected to follow in the second quarter of the year. Average selling prices (ASPs) saw a notable yearly and quarterly increase across all the GCC countries due to increased inventory of premium devices.

Samsung leads the GCC’s overall smartphone market in shipment terms, followed by Apple in second place and Xiaomi in third. “Apple and Samsung significantly ramped up their shipments of premium devices in Q1 2023,” says Akash Balachandran, a research manager at IDC. “This growth can be attributed to exceptional consumer demand for Apple’s Pro and Pro Max series of devices, while Samsung’s S-series also performed well following a successful launch and tie-ups with telecom channels.”

“The smartphone markets of the GCC are likely to remain strained throughout 2023 as inflation drives consumers to prioritize their spending on essentials,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC. “The uncertainty is unlikely to ease before the start of 2024 and the recovery period looks like it will take longer than previously expected.” IDC

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