Kantar: Apple, Samsung face pressure from smaller smartphone brands in Europe

Global smartphone brands such as Apple and Samsung are facing growing competition from a raft of smaller players that are driving a trend towards greater fragmentation of Europe's smartphone market.

Latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech for the three months to April 2014 show that established brands such as Motorola and Sony are showing resurgence on the market, while newcomers including China's Huawei and France's Wiko Mobile are also starting to make their mark.

According to Kantar, Huawei saw the number of smartphones it sold jump 123 per cent in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain over the past year, taking its total share across the five markets to 3 per cent.

French mobile phone manufacturer Wiko Mobile, which Kantar noted saw triple-digit growth across Europe, holds an 8 per cent share in France and has plans to expand in other parts of Europe including the UK this year. Wiko Mobile said it is the third-largest smartphone vendor in France, with sales of 2 million units to the end of 2013 based on figures from GfK.

Kantar added that the UK market has not yet experienced the same level of fragmentation as the other four major European markets, but that could start to change as the likes of Wiko Mobile move in.

Kantar commented that the increasing trend across Europe and the U.S. to separate handsets from tariffs is having an impact on consumer behaviour.

"Consumers are starting to realise the true cost of handsets, and as a result they are shopping around to find cheaper alternatives. This shift in behaviour plays directly into the hands of lesser known brands like Huawei and Wiko, who are able to offer competitive technologies for a fraction of the price," said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Kantar further noted that OS shares across Europe have stabilised. Android is still the number one operating system in Europe with a 72.4 per cent share of the market. Apple is in second place with a 17.5 per cent share, while Windows Phone has a European market share of 8.4 per cent.

In the UK, Android holds 58.2 per cent of the market and iOS 30.2 per cent, while Windows accounts for 9.5 per cent.

Juniper Research reported in April that global smartphone shipments reached 286 million in the first quarter of 2014, representing 34 per cent growth year on year, but just 1 per cent growth on a sequential basis.

For more:
- see this Kantar Worldpanel ComTech release

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