GfK: Growth in MEA region helped drive global smartphone sales in Q3

A new report from Germany-based research firm GfK found that smartphone sales growth in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) contributed to the strongest global smartphone sales on record for a third-quarter period, although sales stagnated at best in European markets.

According to the report, global smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2015 increased 7.4 per cent year-on-year to 323.7 million units, while the value of sales rose by 5.9 per cent to $95.3 billion (€89.8 billion). The average selling price (ASP) of smartphones was down 2 per cent year-on-year at $294.

GfK said the record quarterly sales performance could be attributed to three markets: China, which returned to growth, MEA and emerging APAC.

In MEA, unit sales were up 16 per cent year-on-year to reach 41.1 million. Most countries in this region experienced an increase in units sold compared to the same quarter last year, with Egypt achieving very strong growth of 39 per cent year-on-year.

However, Western Europe saw smartphone unit growth of just 3 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, with most markets stagnating at best. GfK said unit growth in France slowed to 5 per cent year-on-year from 16 per cent in the previous quarter. The UK saw shipments decline 1 per cent year-on-year.

Smartphone unit growth in Central and Eastern Europe (which GfK refers to just as Central Europe) remained limited at 4 per cent year-on-year. Although this represented a slight improvement from the previous quarter's 3 per cent growth, it was down from the double-digit growth in previous quarters.

GfK said the smartphone market in this region continues to be dragged down by Russia and Ukraine, where year-on-year demand declined 6 per cent and 19 per cent respectively, owing to continued political tension. On a more positive note, GfK forecasts that smartphone demand in Central Europe will increase by 4 per cent in 2015, improving further to 9 per cent next year.

The overall positive growth in the third quarter prompted GfK to forecast growth of 13 per cent in the final quarter of the year, bringing total annual sales to 1.3 billion.

Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK, said this forecast represents lower annual growth of 7 per cent year-on-year compared to 23 per cent growth in 2014.

However, Walsh said "next year we forecast growth to improve marginally to 8 per cent year-on-year, buoyed by China and Central Europe, but emerging APAC and MEA will remain the main powerhouses of smartphone unit demand. These markets will continue to benefit from the double-whammy of low smartphone penetration rates and more lower-priced devices entering the market."

For more:
- see the GfK release

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