Although the GCC mobile phone market experienced mild seasonal growth in Q4 of 2017, it is predicted to dip by 6.3 percent YoY (year-on-year) in 2018, according to the latest figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC).
It is interesting to note that Saudi Arabia’s smartphone shipments have been declining for three consecutive quarters, resulting in a 13 percent YoY drop in shipments for 2017 as a whole.
“The Saudi market continues to experience some major macroeconomic challenges,” says Kafil Merchant, a research analyst at IDC. “Additionally, the introduction of an expat- dependent tax has caused a further tightening of disposable income in the country, with many people now looking to leave the kingdom or having already done so.”
IDC has cited the reason of sharp downturns in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE that were caused by the challenging macroeconomic environment.
Besides, the recent introduction of VAT in Saudi Arabia and the UAE has put a further strain on consumer spending, and it will take some time for the market to adjust to this change and for consumer purchasing behavior to return to normal.
Samsung vs Apple
Samsung continued to lead the smartphone space with a 31 percent share, while Apple followed in second place with 27.1 percent share – it’s biggest ever slice of the GCC smartphone market. This also represents the smallest gap between the two giants since 2011.
However, Apple saw a good run in the region during the last quarter of 2017
“The final quarter of the year is usually a good one for Apple; however, this time it has been one of its best ever quarters due to the positive consumer response to the iPhone X,” says Nabila Popal, senior research manager for mobile phones, AR/VR, and displays at IDC.
“Despite its high price, much fanfare greeted the iPhone X’s launch in the region, with many consumers eager to purchase the model for its innovative features and the prestige it carries. However, I do not believe this high level of demand will be sustained beyond the initial buzz of excitement that tends to greet the ‘latest and greatest’ gadget in this region, so Apple’s share is unlikely to remain so high over the longer term.”