Western European mobile phone market returns to growth in 1Q12: Strong demand for Android devices, says IDC
The Western European mobile phone market returned to growth after three quarters of consecutive declines, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Total shipments grew 1.3% year on year to 44.8 million units, according to IDC's European Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. Market growth was supported by healthy performance in the smartphone segment, which accounted for 63% of total shipments in the region.
Total smartphone shipments increased 37% year on year to 28.2 million units in 1Q12 from 20.6 million in 1Q11. The total feature phone segment continued to shrink, with shipments down 30% to 16.6 million units, compared with 23.6 million in 1Q11.
"Despite the fragile economic environment in most European countries, higher unemployment rates, and less disposable income, consumers showed that they are still willing to invest in smartphones when manufacturers understand their needs and offer them the right products," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager, IDC. "During the quarter the biggest contribution to the segment came from the most expensive devices. The top-tier price band — devices priced over €400 — accounted for 49% of total smartphone shipments in the region, compared with 46% in 1Q11, with Apple's iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S II toping the sales ranking."
Windows Phone 7 improves market share, but it is the Android OS that is attracting Symbian and BlackBerry users
Android shipments increased 124% year on year to 15.5 million units and represented 55% of total smartphone shipments in the first quarter 2012. Google's operating system has been able to compete with Apple's iOS in the high-end price-tier segment, but more importantly it dominates the lower-end price tiers where Symbian and BlackBerry were traditionally strong.
iOS continued to grow due to the strong demand for the iPhone 4S. Total shipments increased 59% year on year to 7 million units and gave Apple's OS a market share of 25% in smartphones, up from 21% in 1Q11.
BlackBerry OS is losing its shine with consumers. Shipments were down 27% year on year to 2.5 million units and market share fell 9% in 1Q12 from 17% in the first quarter 2011.
In 1Q12 Symbian represented less than 5% of total smartphone shipments in Western Europe. The operating system lacks operator support and the latest version of the OS, the Symbian Belle, has failed to attract consumers in the region. During the quarter shipments were down 70% year on year. IDC estimates the last Symbian devices to be shipped by the end of the first quarter 2013.
Windows Phones grew 156% year on year to represent 4.1% of total smartphone shipments, up from 2.2% market share in 1Q11. The Nokia Lumia range has performed interestingly but it still below expectations. Nokia's new Windows phones to be launched this year will continue to contribute to steady growth for the OS. IDC expects a better performance from Microsoft's operating system by the end of the year. The new Windows Phone 8 handsets to be launched by manufacturers are drawing attention from operators in Europe.