Africa and Middle East smartphone market experienced the best third quarter on record

Smartphone shipments in the Africa and Middle East (MEA) region grew by 1% YoY and 7.5% QoQ in the third quarter of 2021, according to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service. Despite pent-up demand fading in the rear-view mirror, and the ongoing global component shortages, the smartphone market continues to strengthen as digital services, connectivity and mobile money become ever more important.

MEA Smartphone Shipments, Q3 2021

Counterpoint Research - MEA Smartphone Shipments, Q3 2021
Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor, Q3 2021 Note: Xiaomi includes POCO and Redmi; OPPO includes OnePlus

Commenting on the overall market dynamics, Senior Research Analyst Yang Wang said: “The MEA smartphone market continues to trend upwards. After the passage of the re-opening related trade, a genuine positive shift in consumer perception towards mobile internet became the key catalyst for smartphone demand. As the market marched to the best third quarter on record, there was more competition between the big players and choices for consumers than ever.”

Commenting on the OEM dynamics, Wang further said, “Among the key OEMs in the MEA smartphone market, all except Samsung and Xiaomi recorded YoY gains. Samsung rebounded from the second quarter’s lows, as product availability issues were mostly resolved. We expect Samsung to further strengthen its hold at the top of the MEA smartphone table heading into the busy fourth quarter shopping season.”

“The Transsion brands, namely TECNO, itel and Infinix, have been the big winners since the pandemic. Cumulatively, the company increased its market share from 19% in the third quarter of 2020 to 30.5% in the third quarter of 2021 on the back of strong sales in Africa and successful ventures in other regions. TECNO did especially well in the latest quarter as it continued to strengthen its leadership in the low-mid price segment, while its expanded product portfolio managed to tap into more segments.”

“OPPO and vivo have also made substantial gains over the past year, as the two brands continue to double down on efforts to improve channel penetration and device availability. Xiaomi, which enjoyed tremendous growth in the past year, fell hard in the third quarter as it faced severe component shortages and inventory management issues.”

MEA Smartphone Average Selling Price ($), 2019-Q3 2021

Counterpoint Research - MEA Smartphone Average Selling Price ($), 2019-Q3 2021
Source: Counterpoint Research Model Sales service

According Counterpoint, as the big brands compete to win market share in the fledgling MEA smartphone market, the average selling price (ASP) has risen over the past three years as well, accelerating at the fastest pace in 2021, going ahead to offer three reasons for this development.

“This is down to three reasons: first, the outperformance of premium brands such as Apple and Samsung, whose iPhone 12 and 13 series and Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 series have proven to be especially popular in the more developed GCC countries; second, the entrance of the new Chinese brands, whose competitively priced medium segment handsets have convinced customers to upgrade; and third, Transsion, which dominates the lower price segment in sub-Sahara Africa, has seen early success for its branding and portfolio upgrade, delivering more sophisticated devices to entry-level users. We expect this trend to continue in the future, allowing big handset makers to gain not only market share but also profitability in the medium to long term,” notes Counterpoint in a press release.


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