European smartphone market grows 8%, best performing region in Q3 2019: Canalys

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Europe became the fastest growing region in the global smartphone market in Q3, increasing 8% annually in shipment units, outperforming Asia Pacific, which grew 6%.

This is also the European market’s best performing third quarter in history, thanks to Samsung which continued to demonstrate strong performance in the region.

Samsung recorded 18.7 million units in Q3, which was its highest in the region, an increase of 26% year-on-year. Chinese vendors, led by Huawei and Xiaomi, gave Europe the highest priority in global expansion, amid US-China trade tension. Huawei maintained second position with 11.6 million units, showing a strong bounce-back from Q2’s 8.5 million units.

However, this result still represents a shortfall against Q1, and flat performance from Q3 2018. Xiaomi grew 73% in Europe in Q3, driven by aggressive market expansion and a strong volume product portfolio, further consolidating its number four position, following Apple.

“Europe is in a favorable position and attracts the attention of many Chinese vendors given its channel balance. Operators and open channels form 47% and 50% respectively in terms of go-to-market. This has given the potential to scale and healthier margins with mid to high-end products. Another key incentive for Chinese vendors to up their game is the opportunity to take on a weakening Huawei.” Said Canalys analyst Mo Jia.

“Despite shipments recovering in Q3 from a catastrophic Q2, Huawei is not yet walking away from its worst period. Western Europe shipments still fell 17% year-on-year, but Central and Eastern Europe proved more solid for Huawei as shipments grew 26% annually. However, Huawei’s Chinese peers are rapidly building capabilities and game-plan for Europe. Xiaomi, for example, is accelerating its market entry and channel developments with operators and open channels. Following in their footsteps, other Chinese brands like Oppo, Oneplus, Realme and Vivo are also expected to invest more in brand awareness and local sales force. European markets are expected to become very buoyant in 2020 given all these new entrants.”

“Europe is rife with opportunity and threat,” said Canalys senior analyst Ben Stanton. “On the negative side, Brexit has already had an impact. In the UK, shipments of premium devices from Samsung and Apple accelerated before each Brexit deadline this year, in March and recently October, followed by a large dip, as distributors were forced to stockpile product and hedge against impending tariff risk. This shot-term artificial boost distorts the market and the accompanying risk, costs and uncertainty, is a drain on the industry.

Yet there are great opportunities in Europe as 5G networks roll out. Europe’s operator landscape is fragmented compared with single large-population countries like the US or China, so network build-out will be slower. However, this fragmentation means smartphone vendors have a far broader range of potential partners and, in some markets, relatively new brands like Xiaomi and Oppo have been ranged by operators at an unprecedented pace. Operators will continue to make bold ranging decisions as the 5G battle shifts to the mid-range next year.”


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