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Emerging markets spur smartphone sales growth, Africa lags

Emerging markets spur smartphone sales growth, Africa lags

According to the latest analysis of global smartphone sales by Gartner, the demand for 4G smartphones in emerging markets has spurred growth in the second quarter of 2017.

Gartner says global sales of smartphones to end users totalled 366.2 million units in the second quarter of 2017, a 6.7% increase compared to the same period last year, according to Gartner.

In the smartphone operating system market, Android extended its lead with 87.7% market share, while iOS accounted for 12.1%.

Overall, Gartner says sales of all types of smartphones grew in the second quarter of 2017, compared with the second quarter of 2016. However, a shortage of components is expected to affect sales of premium smartphones in the second half of the year. There is a concern about rising component costs, as well as limited supply, due to the reduced availability of critical components.

"We expect a shortage of flash memory and OLED [organic light-emitting diode] displays will affect premium smartphone supply in the second half of 2017," says Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.

Gupta adds that "Although demand for utility smartphones remains strong, there is growing demand in emerging markets for 4G smartphones, with more storage, better processors and more advanced cameras. This is translating into higher demand for mid-priced [$150 to $200] smartphones."

Samsung's smartphone sales grew 7.5%, year over year, after three consecutive quarterly declines. Vivo and Oppo achieved the best performances in the second quarter of 2017, with year-over-year sales increases of 70.8% and 44.1%, respectively.

"Vivo's smartphones with front-facing cameras have carved out a niche for themselves," notes Gartner. Gupta says, "Vivo maintained second place in China and grew its sales internationally." Similarly, Oppo secured its leading position in China by offering dual rear-facing and front-facing cameras.

Africa lags

Despite the findings by Gartner, a recent analysis from the International Data Corporation (IDC) noted that Africa's smartphone revolution is showing signs of a slowdown. The technology research and consulting services firm says the continent's smartphone market totalled 95.37 million units in 2016.

"And while this is up 3.4% year-on-year, it represents a considerable deceleration from the double-digit growth rates seen in the previous two years, with demand being hampered by the currency fluctuations that are affecting the continent," notes IDC.

According to GSMA's 2017 report into the mobile economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 420 million, which is equal to 43% of the region's population at the end of 2016, to 535 million or 50% of the population in 2020 – making it the fastest growing region in the world (in terms of mobile subscriptions) over the five year period.

IDC says overall, 215.33 million mobile handsets were shipped in Africa during 2016, up 10.1% on the previous year. "However, it was feature phones that were largely responsible for this growth, with shipments increasing 16.1% year on year in 2016 to total 119.97 million units. This growth saw feature phones increase their unit share of Africa's overall handset market from 53% in 2015 to 56% in 2016."

In the report, Simon Baker, program director for mobile devices at IDC CEMA says, "Africa has always been a tough market for mobile phone companies to crack, and in 2016 that challenge got even harder.

"Many African economies struggled throughout 2016, and this had an inevitable knock-on effect on the smartphone market, which had previously experienced a very strong 2015."

According to IDC, Samsung continued to lead the African smartphone market in 2016, largely through a reworked product portfolio that now includes more mid- to low-range models. However, at 28 million units, its 2016 smartphone shipments in Africa showed little growth from the figures recorded in 2015.

"The second-placed smartphone vendor was Transsion, widely known throughout Africa via its itel, Infinix, and Tecno brands. And in terms of feature phone shipments, Transsion comfortably outperformed its main competitors in 2016. Chinese vendors have been showing more interest in the African market in recent quarters and expanding into new countries," notes IDC.

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