Western European Mobile Phone Market Shows Clear Signs of Saturation

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02/03/2015 Leave a comment

The Western European mobile phone market failed to grow in 2014 for the second consecutive year, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Total shipments declined 5.2% year on year to 174.1 million units, according to IDC’s European Mobile Phone Tracker, published in February 2015.

The feature phone segment continues in free fall, with shipments down 39% year-on-year to 28.4 million units and a total value of $USD1.4 billion. This is now a niche segment representing only 16% of total units shipped in the year and 2.2% of the total market value.

Total smartphone shipments exceeded 145.8 million units, up 6.4% year-on-year, to represent 84% of the total number of mobile phones shipped in the region last year. This accounted for $USD62.4 billion in value, up 1.7% year-on-year.

“Although the total market was impacted by higher penetration rates, the smartphone segment hit a record high in 2014 in terms of units shipped and market value,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research director at IDC. “Seven out of ten people in Western Europe now have a smartphone. The success of the new iPhones 6 and 6 Plus, the increasing popularity of phablets and the explosion of devices priced under $150, were the biggest contributors to this growth. Last year we saw 28 new brands entering the European market. Their main focus is on low-end and affordable smartphones. This has eased the transition from feature phones to smartphones for those consumers who were unconvinced by the real value of a smart device. We continue to see a strong momentum around the new brands that entered the market in the past two years, which combined already represent 6.4% of the total smartphone market.”

Phablets represented nearly 10% of smartphones shipped in 2014. Although the average selling price (ASP) of $669 was much higher than normal smartphones (ASP of $428), unit shipments surpassed 14.3 million in 2014, which represented 174% growth from previous year. Samsung, Apple, and LG accounted for 80% of the phablets shipped in Europe.

The market is now divided among three smartphone operating systems: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. The other operating systems have failed to establish themselves as an alternative and will risk disappearing or exiting the European market in the future. Despite being the market leader, Android will continue to be challenged by iOS in the high-end and Windows Phone in the low-end. iOS is expected to increase market share in 2015 as the momentum around the new iPhones continues. IDC estimates that Windows Phone will grow in the enterprise segment. The platform is available in devices with a wide variety of screen sizes and price points, while remaining consistent across the whole range. It is also fully integrated with Microsoft’s enterprise solutions.

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