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Weakening demand impacts Gulf region’s smartphone market

Newly released data from IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that shipments of mobile phones to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region declined 5.9% quarter on quarter (QoQ) in Q3 2022 to total 5.23 million units. Smartphone shipments were down 5.7% QoQ to 4.74 million units, while feature phone shipments declined 8.1% over the same period to 0.48 million units. In terms of value, the GCC smartphone market was worth $1.93 billion in Q3 2022, an increase of 5.4% QoQ, while the feature phone market totalled $8.42 million, down 17.0%.

“Product shortages, while generally improved compared to previous quarters, continued to plague portions of the smartphone market,” says Akash Balachandran, a research manager at IDC. “Furthermore, inflationary pressures impacted consumer spending among low- and mid-end price bands as discretionary spending was directed toward essentials. The market’s premium price bands performed well in Q3 2022 due to the release of several popular flagship devices from Apple and Samsung, which explains the quarterly growth in value.”

Saudi Arabia accounted for 52.4% of all smartphones shipped across the GCC in Q3 2022, although shipments to the Kingdom were down 4.4% QoQ in unit terms. The UAE, the GCC’s second-largest market, accounted for 23.6% of the region’s overall smartphone market, despite shipments to the country declining 7.2% QoQ. “The decline in these two large markets came as a result of an unwillingness among channel partners to carry inventory as they are being challenged by fluctuating prices and varied pricing between different retail segments,” says Balachandran. “In Apple’s case, product shortages limited the company’s quarterly growth.”

Samsung led the GCC smartphone market in unit terms in Q3 2022 with 47.6% share, while seeing its shipments to the region decline 7.2% QoQ. Second-placed Apple, with 16.8% share, saw its shipments decline of 0.8% QoQ, lower than previous expectations due to sales being bottle necked by supply constraints. Rounding out the top three, Xiaomi accounted for 15.2% of the GCC smartphone market in Q3 2022 but suffered a 5.1% QoQ decline in shipments with its focus on more midrange and high-end devices.

The GCC smartphone market is forecast to grow 13.8% QoQ in Q4 2022. Regional events like the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar will drive retail footfall in the region. With the expectation that supply issues will see some resolution, demand for Apple’s latest line of devices will help drive overall value growth.

“5G penetration is set to continue to grow as the technology is expanding into lower price bands,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC. “5G devices accounted for 38.2% of smartphone shipments to the region in Q3 2022 and the technology is expected to become standard in mid-tier price bands among Android vendors. By the end of 2026, we expect that 5G devices will account for 82.6% of total GCC smartphone shipments.”

CT Bureau

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