New smartphone makers putting big brands under pressure in Europe

26 May 2014

Pictured: 'Xiaomi the money!' The Xiaomi RedMi is now the top selling smartphone in China

The smartphone market in Europe is becoming increasingly fragmented as global brands, such as Apple and Samsung, face competition from smaller manufacturers emerging from the East.

Chinese manufacturer Huawei saw the number of smartphones it sold jump 123pc in the big 5 European markets over the past year.  It now holds 3pc share, securing a 5pc holding in both the German and Spanish markets.  

Wiko, which also saw triple-digit growth across Europe, holds an 8pc share in France and is pushing ahead with expansion across untapped parts of Europe.

The UK market has not yet experienced the same levels of fragmentation as its European counterparts, but with Wiko set to make a push in the UK this year, it will be interesting to see if it follows suit.

“Across Europe there is an accelerating trend of fragmentation in the handset market as smaller brands gain real traction,” said Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. 

“Established brands like Motorola and Sony are showing resurgence and newcomers to the European market, such as Huawei and Wiko, are challenging the established names.” 

Separation of tariffs and handsets

Sunnebo said that increasingly across Europe and the US we are seeing separation of tariffs and handsets, mirroring the dynamic seen in other parts of the world. 

“Consumers are starting to realise the true cost of handsets, and as a result they are shopping around to find cheaper alternatives. This shift in behaviour plays directly into the hands of lesser-known brands like Huawei and Wiko, who are able to offer competitive technologies for a fraction of the price.”

In China, local vendor Xiaomi outsold Samsung for the second time April. Its budget Xiaomi RedMi was the top-selling smartphone in China, the world’s largest smartphone market.  

Some 41pc of consumers who bought the Xiaomi RedMi were first-time smartphone buyers, while 23pc were captured from Samsung by switching consumers.

In the US, Samsung’s rapidly growing share of 34.1pc is hot on the heels of Apple, which stands at 34.6pc of the market.

“Initial Samsung Galaxy S5 sales in the US have been strong, with significant numbers of existing Galaxy owners trading up to the latest model, however, in these early stages of release few of Apple’s loyal customers have switched to the Android platform.”

OS shares across Europe have stabilised, with Android holding its position as the No 1 operating system in Europe, with a 72.4pc share of the market. 

Android is followed by Apple’s iOS with a 17.5pc share, while in third place Windows’ European market share stands at 8.4pc. In the UK, Android holds 58.2pc of the market and iOS 30.2pc, while Windows accounts for 9.5pc.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years