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UAE tops global smartphone penetration

smartphone penetration in UAE

Surge in smartphone sales has come at the expense of PC spending

September 4, 2013 6:15 by

Research by Google ranks the UAE as number one in global smartphone penetration, with 73.8 per cent of local mobile consumers carrying the devices.

Looking at the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region as a whole, smartphone sales surpassed feature phones for the first time in Q2 this year.

Despite India and China being considered to be the markets with the highest potential for the smartphone market, the UAE overtakes both countries as the introduction of smart handheld devices become available at affordable prices and the emirate develops better infrastructure.

Recently, the UAE has seen device prices fall, a greater variety of choice of smartphone models available and the introduction of faster and more reliable wireless networks in addition to affordable and attractive data plans by operators across the country.

The region is also one of the most attractive retail destinations worldwide based upon its strong economy, a growing middle class, surging consumer confidence in technology and increasing domestic consumption, which has been attributed to the smartphone penetration success.

However, this surge in sales has come at the expense of PC spending, as according to recent IDC figures, shipments of PCs into the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey slowed by 18.3 per cent year-on-year during Q2 of 2013, to a total of 4.4 million units.

“A growing portion of end users, primarily from the consumer segment, are shifting their spending from PCs to tablets and smartphones,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, a research manager for personal computing, systems and infrastructure solutions at IDC MEA and Turkey.

Desktops were the hardest hit, with shipments down 20.0 per cent year-on-year to 1.8 million units, while notebook shipments declined to 17.1 per cent over the same period to a total of 2.6 million units.

“Ongoing political instability in neighbouring Syria continues to negatively impact the PC markets of Jordan and Lebanon,” says Victoria Mendes, a research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC MEA and Turkey.

She continues: “The impact of this instability is being exacerbated by the cannibalisation of these PC markets by tablet devices. The home segment suffered the most as consumer sentiment remains very low in these countries, while the absence of large commercial and public sector deals further contributed to the decline of the overall PC market across the Levant region.”

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