Reversing Smartphone Slump in the Gulf Region

The beginning months of any year are always the most exciting related to the smartphone market and 2017 is no exception.

Over a period of just a week or two, a selection of the top manufacturers in the world revealed their new handsets in a race which is becoming fiercer by the day.

Global sales of smartphones increased only 5% in 2016 to just over 1.5 billion total units following an increase of 14.4% in 2015. That has left smartphone makers scrambling to find market share amidst less growth.

Conditions across the Gulf region were tougher, with sales of smartphones contracting by 23% according to research firm IDC.

With those numbers, it was not surprising that several manufacturers looked to start fast at the beginning of March given the poor performance by Samsung the market leader following its debacle with the Note 7.

The giant electronics firm based in South Korea had to make a global recall on its device and it lost it top spot in units sold to California based Apple during the 2016 fourth quarter that saw 76.77 million handsets shipped.

Amongst the companies that will give Samsung even more competition in 2017 are LG, Sony and Huawei.

All three are looking to bring in new devices and not just updates to existing units.

Huawei and its other rivals in China BBK and Oppo now have the third, fourth and fifth spots in world market share for smartphones.

Huawei has taken much more of the premium market share having narrowed the gap worldwide with Samsung last year from 50 million units to 36 million.

A push into the Gulf region by so many companies has translated into more sales in the region, where the China manufacturer was one of only a few to defy the declining sales market with an increase of 9% in 2016.

In comparison, Samsung and Apple the two market share leaders saw their shipments drop 32% and 21% respectively, said IDC.

One other player looking to make a big impact across the Middle East is Finnish firm HMB Global, which during May of 2016 was launched with rights to Nokia and has opened regional offices in the UAE prior to launching its new line up of devices during the second quarter of 2017.

However, the smartphones of the Finnish firm might not be receiving all the attention. In February, it was an updated version of the 3310 feature phone that was the king of the show at the Mobile World Congress.

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