Huawei continued its rapid rise in the EMEA smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2018, gaining a quarter of the Android market for the first time in the region, while its value share of the Android market rose to a third. Arch-rival Samsung held its share in units but dropped in value.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC) research, total smartphone volumes in EMEA in the fourth quarter were 98,8-million, very similar to those in the same quarter in 2017. Total value was up 2,5%, at $35,5-billion, though this total masked increases across Europe and a drop in the Middle East and Africa.
“In the European Union and EEA, a key market for Huawei, the company came close to overtaking Samsung,” says Marta Pinto, research manager at IDC EMEA. “Eyes in the industry have been on Huawei, to see how much it would grow, but also on Apple, to see how much it might fall after the company’s recent profit warning. In this context, Apple had a reasonable quarter, though not as strong as the fourth quarter in 2017. Its value share of the EMEA market was down to 41% from 46% a year ago.”
Xiaomi also had an exceptional quarter, with shipments up 70,5% year over year, but lower than in the third quarter.
“Xiaomi is entering new markets across Europe one by one, but it is finding this a difficult process. However, its market share continues to grow steadily,” says Simon Baker, program director at IDC EMEA. “Huawei, on the other hand, is already there in all of them, especially in operator retail, a big advantage, and it is leveraging that presence in a head-to-head battle with Samsung driven by a lot of marketing and the strength of its product portfolio. Such a rapid change is rare in this region among the top players in the market.”
“The one outstanding performance from Huawei over Samsung is the presence of its other brand Honor, which is doing increasingly well,” says Pinto. “Honor is run quite independently from the Huawei brand, and the two brands to a certain extent compete with each other. More Honor phones are sold in retail chains than by the operator shops in comparison with the Huawei brand, and Honor in general has lower price points. The two together allow Huawei to play more points on the market.”
IDC forecasts a slight decline of 0,1% in smartphone volumes across EMEA in 2019, with the drop mainly felt in Western and Central and Eastern Europe, while the Middle East and Africa will continue to experience 2,8% year-over-year growth.
Android will continue to consolidate its position, as consumers continue to replace their feature phones with an Android-enabled smartphone in the Middle East and Africa, due to its affordable device offering.