The GCC’s mobile connected devices market is expected to increase by around 29 per cent to 45 million units by 2019 compared to 35 million units in 2015, according to the data released by the International Data Corporation, or IDC, on Sunday.
The region’s market expanded by 16.7 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2015 and saw record shipments of over 8.7 million units.
The data shows that the region adopted new technology quickly as the smartphone market grew double-digits in the March quarter, but the feature phone category declined by double-digits in the same period.
Similarly, tablets witnessed nearly a double-digit growth but the portable PC market dropped by single digits.
Comprising shipments of smartphones, tablets and portable PCs to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait, the market’s growth was spurred by lower average selling prices, or ASPs, increasing penetration levels and the continued efforts of new vendors to make their way into the region’s markets and claim a piece of the pie.
The Saudi market accounted for over 50 per cent of the mobile connected devices shipped across the GCC in the first quarter, with the UAE ranking second with approximately a 26 per cent share of the market’s volume. Saudi Arabia’s dominance can be attributed to its sheer size and the rapid rate at which IT adoption is occurring across the kingdom.
Greater growth in the GCC was hindered by the negative impact of political and economic events in Kuwait, which recorded the only negative performance in the region’s mobile connected devices, with shipments falling 10 per cent year-on-year.
The factors that contributed to the Kuwaiti market’s decline included internal government issues that resulted in the delay of various infrastructure projects including IT, as well as market saturation in the smartphone, tablet and portable PC categories.
Qatar recorded the region’s highest rate of year-on-year growth in the first quarter, with shipments up by more than 45 per cent, driven by ongoing projects and initiatives associated with enhancing the country’s infrastructure and its continuing preparations for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
The GCC smartphone market grew 21 per cent year-on-year in volume terms during the first quarter, taking share away from the feature phone category, which declined 14 per cent over the same period. This growth now brings the smartphone market’s share in the region to just under 77 per cent. Qatar and the UAE recorded the highest growth rates in the region.
“The sheer magnitude of declining ASPs is a major factor that continues to drive the adoption of smartphones, with 500 per cent growth seen in shipments of smartphones priced below $150,” said Saad Elkhadem, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa and Turkey. “This is a trend being driven by vendors like Samsung, Lenovo and Huawei, and is set to continue over the coming quarters.”
The region’s tablet market recorded a year-on year growth of 9.9 per cent in the first quarter. This is in stark contrast to the performance of the overall Middle East and Africa market, which suffered its first-ever decline over the same period.
“The growth experienced in the GCC market was mainly due to a strong push from up-and-coming vendors such as Lenovo, Huawei and Xtouch, providing an arena for lower ASP’s to flourish,” said Feras Ibrahim, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “In country terms, the principal driver of this growth was the notable performance of the Saudi market, where the consumer segment grew rapidly.”
In contrast, the GCC’s portable PC market experienced a year-on-year decline of 6.4 per cent in the first quarter. The major market inhibitor was the continuing shift towards tablets and smartphones, with this trend being felt more strongly in the consumer segment than in the commercial space.
By Abdul Basit
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