Dubai: Mobile phone sales to end users in the Middle East and Africa region (MEA) totalled 34.41 million units in the first quarter of 2010, a 31.53 per cent increase from the same period in 2009 to 26.16 million, an industry expert told Gulf News.
"Out of the total units, smartphone sales reached 3.4 million, an increase of 29.92 per cent compared to 2.7 million during the same period last year, as mobile e-mail, rich messaging and social networking continue to drive demand for smartphones across the region," Annette Zimmermann, Senior Research Analyst, Mobile Devices Technology and Service Provider Research at Gartner, told Gulf News.
Smartphones accounted for 9.88 per cent of all mobile handset sales in the first quarter of 2010.
Nokia remained the leader in the region with 23.27 million units, registering a year-on-year growth of more than 51 per cent, followed by Samsung with 5.62 million units, registering a growth of more than seven per cent, LG with 1.75 million, registering a negative growth of 6.08 per cent, Sony Ericsson with 1.17 million, registering a negative growth of 21.75 per cent.
"The first quarter also saw some movement outside the top five mobile handset vendor rankings. Chinese manufacturer G-Five made its debut into the top five for the first time, grabbing 1.8 per cent of market share in the first quarter of 2010 and replacing Motorola," Annette said.
Nokia faces challenge
She said globally, Nokia is challenged by RIM, HTC and Apple while in the MEA, Nokia still enjoys a strong brand recognition compared to other vendors. Nokia's Maemo and Symbian operating systems will face competition in the third quarter with the Android devices gaining market share as Nokia's Symbian 3 and 4 OS is delayed. Android started selling in the second quarter in the region and it is growing slowly and enjoys a market share of 0.30 per cent. With HTC, LG and Samsung supporting Android devices, the operating system will register a strong growth by end of the year.
Samsung, HTC and LG echoed in the same manner that consumers are expected to gravitate to smartphones not only for the ‘cool' and ‘slick' look, but also for the overall experiences that are intuitive, seamless and engrossing.
Symbian still enjoys a market share of 88 per cent followed by Microsoft with 4.70 per cent and RIM with 4.30 per cent and iPhone with 2.60 per cent. Microsoft's Windows OS will face a strong challenge from RIM, iPhone and Android operating systems.
"HTC is proud of its achievements with the Android operating system, having developed the first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1. We have been delighted with the level of consumer demand for our latest Android phones. The customizable nature of Android empowers users to personalise their mobile experience and make their phone an extension of themselves," Nikitas Glykas, Regional Director of HTC South Eastern Europe and the Middle East, told Gulf News.
"We believe that Android OS has already proven in the market in terms of technology as well as market adoption, after all this year it finally became the most prevalent operating system on all mobile phones in the US. We will continue to support other platforms alongside bada as we recognise our commitment to various mobile platforms," Sandeep Saihgal, General Manager of mobile phones, Samsung Gulf Electronics, told Gulf News.
He said the Android platform has come to maturity and is being widely adopted by the industry and consumers. The Android marketplace is growing in terms of quality and the sheer number of applications. The forthcoming Windows Phone 7 OS is also an exciting prospect and we're likely to see some incredible innovations.
According to H.S. Paik, President of LG Gulf , Android will have strong momentum from its Eclair OS version. But need to have more collaboration with operators for our further success.
For the full year, Annette said is expected to sell 145 million units compared to 125 million last year, registering a growth of 16 per cent while smartphones are expected to sell 16 million units this year compared to 12 million, registering a growth of more than 33 per cent. The region is expected to register 10.52 per cent rise in revenues this year to $13.73 billion compared to $12.42 billion last year.
"As a true global player, Samsung is moving forward by diversifying its operating systems to satisfy every customer need and actively respond to the demands of the smartphone market.
"Samsung will launch many new smartphones across different operating systems this year. Introducing new users to valuable and personalized smartphone experiences, we aim to sell more than 18 million units smartphones which is increased 300 per cent from the smartphone sales in 2009," Sandeep said.
LG is expected to launch 35 models in UAE of which 7 will be smartphones while Samsung is expected to launch around 20 models of which around eight will be smartphones.
"The second quarter will be a very important one for Apple as it will present its new iPhone 4G in June during its Worldwide Developer Conference, which will be the first to feature the latest release of the iPhone OS which is expected to see improvements for developers and users, such as multitasking," she said.