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MEA smartphone shipments decline 20% YoY in Q3 2022

Smartphone shipments in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region fell 20.4% YoY and 12% QoQ to 35 million units in Q3 2022, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor Service. Compared to the previous quarter, the macro situation continued to worsen as inflation undermined consumer sentiment, while OEMs became ever more cautious in areas such as distribution expansion, marketing efforts and stock management.

Counterpoint Research - MEA Smartphone Quarterly Unit Shipments

Commenting on the market’s performance, Senior Analyst Yang Wang said, “The biggest issue in the smartphone market, and indeed any consumer market, this year has been macro issues. We saw no let-up in inflationary pressures and currency headwinds in the MEA market in Q3 2022. Consumer sentiment continued to be bleak, leading to OEMs and distributors cutting market spending. On the other hand, high inventory levels forced market participants to adopt destocking measures, hurting profit margins. Despite this, the 20% YoY drop probably exaggerated the gloominess in the market, as Q3 2021 was an especially successful period for the region.”

Within the MEA region, the Middle East fared better due to the GCC countries’ resilience. High inflows of energy revenues buttressed state coffers, which strengthened local currencies and kept inflation down. The region was also boosted by sales events associated with the World Cup, which is being held in Qatar since November. On the other hand, roughly 8 in 10 countries in Africa saw inflation accelerating in Q3, according to Counterpoint estimates. Persistent energy supply issues, as well as worries about another round of food shortages, kept consumers ever more cautious. We believe there is further room for inflation rates to rise in Africa towards the end of the year.

Counterpoint Research - MEA Smartphone Unit Shipments Share, Q3 2022 vs Q3 2021

In terms of the MEA smartphone market’s competitive landscape, the biggest takeaway from the quarter was that while the economic downturn hurt most players, smaller brands disproportionately suffered more, as seen from the dramatic loss of market share. During this period of rising costs and worsening market sentiment, smaller brands faced mounting supply challenges. Maintaining cost discipline meant slashing spending elsewhere, such as marketing and distribution, and smaller players were unable to keep up with the bigger OEMs.

Market leader Samsung saw YoY volume and market share growth, as its supply issues subsided, while the Galaxy A series’ 2022 iterations continued to gain momentum. Samsung continues to be the best-placed OEM in the region as its broad product portfolio covers every customer segment. The brand is well-positioned to capture market volume when the economic issues ease.

Transsion Group brands continued to take the MEA region’s biggest share of smartphone shipments. However, its exposure to the lower-value segments, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, meant that it faced the strongest headwinds among the big brands. We noted aggressive destocking efforts during the quarter, mostly concentrated within the lower-end TECNO and itel brands. On the other hand, Infinix continued to perform well as its 2022 models ticked all the boxes. We believe Transsion may stage a rebound towards the end of the year, as the company prepares for higher-end launches for the TECNO and Infinix brands.

Xiaomi captured the third spot among OEMs, as supply issues disappeared in the rear-view mirror. The company’s affordable mid-range products, particularly the Redmi Note 11 and Redmi 10 series, remained popular among price-conscious customers, while its business received a boost due to favorable conditions in the Middle East region.

Apple continued to gain market share in the region, largely due to improving distribution across the region. The iPhone 13 series appeared regularly among the best-selling models in the region, even during the last months of the iPhone 13 cycle. We expect Apple’s volume and market share to increase further in the next quarter as the iPhone 14 sales begin to gain momentum.

While the end-of-year shopping season is expected to deliver a boost to the smartphone market, sales increases are unlikely to match the levels seen last year, as affordability will continue to be first and foremost among customers’ concerns. Macroeconomic headwinds and geopolitical uncertainties may well persist into 2023, but we do expect a small rebound in the MEA smartphone market next year. Economies in MEA have fared better than those in developed countries, and the second half of 2023 may see a release of pent-up demand, just as post-COVID-19 reopening spurred a period of consumer optimism.

CT Bureau

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