Smartphone shipments in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region increased by 66% year on year to stand at 36 million units in Q1 2015. This means that the annual smartphone shipments for the region are on track to hit the 155 million mark.
According to new data released by the IDC, smartphone adoption is on the rise in Africa as well as in the Middle East. On the other hand, feature phones have taken a serious hit and will barely account for 30% of the handset market by the end of the next 4 years. Shipments of feature phones in both Africa and the Middle East fell by about 20% while smartphones’ popularity kept rising to account for 47% of handsets shipped to the African region in Q1 2015 and 67% in the Middle East.
With smartphones come platforms. Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry OS are the main mobile platforms. Windows Phone and Blackberry OS’ failure to dominate the global market also manifests itself in the MEA region where they are literally being overrun by Android and iOS which account for 95% of all smartphones shipped to the region in the first quarter of the year.
Blackberry-powered smartphones’ shipments fell by 14% and 29% in Africa and the Middle East respectively. This was as a result of increased competition from Android smartphones and the successful implementation of bring your own devices (BYOD) by corporates. Not even the new models it has introduced into the market could help Blackberry regain its lost glory. 89% of smartphones shipped to the African region were powered by Google’s Android while the figure in the Middle East stood at 80%. Apple’s iOS accounted for just 7% of smartphones shipped to Africa and 17% in the Middle East. Blackberry’s Blackberry OS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone share the remaining slice of the pie (5% overall in the MEA region; 4% in Africa and 3% in the Middle East).
Android devices cannibalized sales at the entry level/low end smartphone category which also happens to be the most popular on the African continent driven by increased sales of devices from Samsung and Tecno. The top three smartphone vendors on the African continent are Samsung, Apple and Tecno with Tecno having ousted Chinese device maker Huawei from the top three. The three account for 55% of all smartphone shipments to the continent in Q1 2015.
Since Apple doesn’t make any cheap iPhones, iOS dominance is mainly in the upper $450+ category. However, not so many people are keen on pricey devices in Africa and the few that used to buy very expensive smartphones are no longer doing that. Well, at least as of Q1 2015. Just 14% of the smartphones shipped in the time frame highlighted cost over $450 in Africa. That’s a drop from 25% a year ago. Things aren’t that different in the Middle East where that figure stands at 34%, a drop from 48% last year. The $0-$200 smartphone category is the most popular in Africa. 45% of the smartphones shipped cost $100 or less. That figure soars by 30 percentage points to stand at 75% when the range is extended to cover the sub $200 category.
South Africa and Nigeria are the key movers and shakers on the African continent as they posted impressive growth figures. Shipments to Nigeria grew by 135% year on year while South Africa experienced 65% growth. 14% of all smartphones shipped to Africa in Q1 2015 went to the Nigerian market. South Africa got 12%. In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Turkey are the key drivers of the smartphone market boasting of growth in smartphone shipments of 9.5%, 123% and 33% respectively in Q1 2015.