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Middle East bucks trend of falling smartphone sales

|By Arabian Post Staff| Although smartphone sales growth rate is slowing down worldwide, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is witnessing an increase in sales.

Smartphone shipment to the MENA region reached 171.2 million in 2016, up from 157.5 million, according to Statista.com – a global portal of statistics that collects information from 18,000 sources.

This also means that the Middle East mobile market is increasingly turning smart, with the shipment of mobile phones continuing to decline while the use of smartphones is consistently on the upswing.

Shipments of mobile phones declined 11.7 percent on a quarter to quarter basis in the second quarter of 2016, the latest period for which International Data Corporation (IDC) has released statistics.

However, smartphone sales in the region are estimated to have grown to US$42.2 billion in 2016, up from US$40.4 in 2015. The market for mobile phones totalled 26.1 million units for the first three months of last year, a significant drop from the 29.49 million units shipped in the previous quarter. The performance was even worse from a year-on-year perspective, with shipments down 12.5% from the 29.78 million units seen in Q1 2015.

According to the UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), 77.81% of all handsets registered on the UAE’s networks in the second quarter were smartphones.

The Middle East smartphone market is dominated by Samsung, Apple, and Huawei, with shares of 42.1%, 13.0%, and 8.6%, respectively. Of the top three vendors, only Samsung recorded quarter-on-quarter growth in share and shipments, with the successful launch of its Galaxy S7 flagship spurring a 6.6% increase in units. This compares very favourably to declines over the same period of 28.8% for Apple and 14.5% for Huawei.

One-third of all handsets registered on UAE networks were manufactured by Samsung.  The top four brands were Samsung (33.3% of all handsets registered), Nokia (27%), Apple (13.6%); and Blackberry (1.8%)

The Middle East market has seen the foray by another player, with LAVA International, claiming to be the world’s fastest-growing smartphone brand, announcing the launch of A3,  a dual-SIM smartphone with dual cameras –13 mega pixel and 8 mega pixel – and faster fingerprint unlocking speed. Prices start with Dh799.

The launch comes a few weeks after the company launched LAVA Metal 24 smartphone – which, according to the company, is selling like a hot cake. The company plans to manufacture 216 million handsets per annum in the next 5-8 years.

Lava International has expanded its sales network across the GCC to accelerate the sales of its  smartphones, especially the latest A3, according to Mahommed Khizar Ulla, head of business at LAVA International DMCC, MENA.

“We currently have a strong network across the GCC markets to sell and offer strong customer service in the region,” Khizar said. “As one of the fastest growing smartphone brands in the world, we are aware of the need for speedy customer and after sale service. That’s why we are offering value added after sales service to customers across the region.

“As we grow our sales, there will be more customer centres to offer better experience to owners of LAVA smartphones.”

Since inception in 2009, the LAVA family has grown to become one of the fastest growing handset companies worldwide.The company has operations in Thailand – where it is the market leader and offices in the UAE, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mexico, Middle East, Russia and Egypt.