European Smartphone Market Down 14 Percent in 2020
2020 was a rollercoaster year for the European smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research. The COVID-19 pandemic hit the region hard, resulting in both supply and demand side issues. Meanwhile, economic concerns and employment worries led to consumers saving rather than spending, and widespread lockdowns meant that many consumers were unable or unwilling to visit retail stores and buy new devices.
“April was the worst month of the year, with sales down almost 50% on 2019. Declining cases and easing restrictions led to a recovery over the summer, but the virus came back with a vengeance. COVID-19 cases rose in September leading to new lockdowns across Europe from November. The end of the year, therefore, saw the market decline again, despite the best efforts of Apple. Overall, 2020 saw the European smartphone market shrink by 14% versus 2019,” said Jan Stryjak, associate director at Counterpoint Research. “In addition to the pandemic, US sanctions on Huawei harmed its ability to bring new products to market and produce existing products in volume. This has created opportunities for some smartphone makers, so while the 2020 was difficult, there were winners as well as losers ”
Samsung held number one spot, but the Korean vendor had a tough year. Even though it managed to grow share slightly, this was because its sales didn’t decline as much as the total market. Apple may have declined slightly in 2020, but the last quarter launched it to second position overall. Xiaomi was the major success story in Europe in 2020, becoming the third largest OEM in the region. Huawei slipped to fourth position. Its inability to produce competitive smartphones thanks to US sanctions means the vendor has all but exited the European smartphone market. Oppo entered the European market in 2018, but 2020 was the year it gained some serious momentum as it took fifth position.
A relatively successful Christmas period in Europe hinted at a positive outlook for 2021. “The market ended the year on a strong note in Q4 backed by the demand for the 5G iPhone. This strong momentum is expected to continue in Q1 2021 as sales of iPhone 12 spill over to the next quarter and the Samsung Galaxy S21 is launched. The rush of flagships in Q1 from Samsung and Apple, the eventual easing of lockdowns and expectations of an economic recovery will then lay the foundation for a swift recovery of the market in 2021. Along with that, we will need to keep a keen eye on the development of 5G and the performance of new arrivals like Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus, Vivo and realme as they attempt to fill the gap left by Huawei,” said research analyst Ankit Malhotra.