Stability in EMEA Smartphone Market Masks Regional Disparities
Volumes dropped by nearly 5% in the EMEA smartphone market in the third quarter compared with the same quarter in 2017, but market value was up more than 10% over the year, according to IDC. Total market volumes were 89 million for a value of $29.8 billion at retail prices before sales taxes.
The strong performance masked marked regional variations. The Middle East and Africa market slumped both in volumes and value, with the slump in oil prices adding to declining exchange rates in many countries. Meanwhile Europe performed strongly, both in the West and in Central Europe; further East the Russian market showed continuing vitality.
In value terms the core European market (the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland) was worth nearly a quarter more than in 3Q17, approaching $19 billion at retail prices before sales tax and VAT. While there is a trend toward more expensive smartphones in most countries around the world as people use them more, the rise is more emphatic in Europe than anywhere else except the U.S., despite the relatively sluggish economic environment across most of Europe.
The value strength in the third quarter was not driven by Apple, as its new XS model was only available in the final days of the quarter and the XR launch date after the quarter end. Much of the increase was due to the success of Huawei in moving up market and becoming a close competitor of Samsung in the middle and upper middle reaches of the market.
In the past year Huawei has almost doubled the proportion of its smartphone revenues in Europe from smartphones worth over $200. Europe is a key target market for Huawei and already accounts for nearly half of its total smartphone exports. Effectively closed out of the smartphone market in the U.S., Huawei has little more than a third of Samsung's global revenues from exports outside its home market, according to IDC.
Xiaomi is a more conventional new competitor in Europe to date as it mainly sells cheaper smartphone models and undercuts the prices of the brands it is aiming to supplant. It did not increase share in Europe in the third quarter. Xiaomi will be buoyed in the fourth quarter by its recent launch in the U.K.
Top 5 Smartphone Companies, EMEA, 3Q18 (Units in Millions)