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All eyes on Middle East smartphone market


Nokia remains the leader for the overall mobile phone market.

September 12, 2013 4:01 by

Two out of every five phones in the Middle East are smartphones, according to the latest research from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The report, released yesterday, also reveals that smartphone volumes in the region have risen by 16.4 per cent in Q2 2013, compared to the same quarter the year before.

With a 45.2 per cent share of the market’s volume, Nokia remains the leader for the overall Middle East mobile phone market, followed by Samsung.

The South Korean giant, which ranks second, had a 18.3 per cent share of the overall handset market for Q2 2013, but held nearly half of the smartphone market.

Nearly half of all smartphones in the region in Q2 2013 were shipped by Samsung, with its Galaxy SIII and SIII Mini models selling extremely well, according to the study. Both devices outsold Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S4.

Nokia’s smartphone share has returned to double figures, increasing from 9.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 to 11.8 per cent in the second. The report indicates that as the Finnish company’s Lumia Windows Phone lineup – which includes cheaper models – is extended, its older Symbian devices are being phased out.

Apple’s overall smartphone share was slightly down quarter on quarter at 11.4 per cent, as consumers awaited the launch of the next iPhone iteration.

As for BlackBerry, the Canadian manufacturer has managed to hold on to its position as the number-two vendor in the smartphone category, according to the report. However, the company’s new Q10 and Z10 devices account for just 13.3 per cent of the vendor’s sales in the second quarter of 2013.

Simon Baker, program manager for mobile handsets at IDC CEMA, says that as the smartphone markets of the developed world become saturated, the Middle East region becomes more significant to handset makers.

“We expect to see vendors increasing their marketing activities in the region and expanding distribution,” he says.

One system rules them all?

Android leads the game in terms of operating system, with 60 per cent share of overall smartphone volume. However, the report suggests that as iPhone and Nokia Lumia sales rise, the competition is beginning to heat up.

Hamza Saleem, a senior analyst for mobile devices at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey says he expects that other contenders, such as Tizen and Firefox, will soon be entering the regional market over the next few months.

“But these new operating systems have to develop an ecosystem that can compete with the likes of iStore and Play Store, as apps are becoming the dominant factor when purchasing a smartphone.”

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