The stellar pace of global smartphone sales is slowing, according to data from Gartner.
Emerging markets, including the Middle East and North Africa, are driving the growth of lower-end handsets, but China’s economic slowdown is affecting the top end of the market, according to the information technology consultancy.
Gartner said global smartphone sales in the second quarter grew at its slowest pace since 2013.
It reached 330 million units, up 13.5 per cent year on year and an increase of 28.8 per cent from 2013.
The Middle East and North Africa were among the fastest-growing regions of smartphone sales in the second quarter.
“While demand for lower-cost 3G and 4G smartphones continued to drive growth in emerging markets, overall smartphone sales remained mixed region by region in the second quarter of 2015,” said Anshul Gupta, a research director at Gartner.
“Emerging Asia/Pacific [excluding China], Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa were the fastest-growing regions … [but] smartphone sales in China fell for the first time year over year, recording a 4 per cent decline.”
With Apple opening at least two new shops in the UAE this year, its expansion in fast-growing emerging markets could be well timed to offset softer demand elsewhere.
Saad Elkhadem, a research analyst at IDC, said Apple’s move would help the company to build on its success in the UAE and across the GCC.
Apple’s new iPhone will be launched in a matter of weeks – the release date is a closely guarded secret – and Samsung launched two new upgrades to its S6 Note and Edge phones last week to steal a march on its US rival, intensifying competition at the top end of the market.
Samsung’s premium phones continued to be challenged by Apple’s large-screen iPhones in the second quarter, according to Gartner.
The South Korean firm lost 4.3 percentage points in global market share and unit sales fell 5.3 per cent in the period.
However, iPhone sales increased 36 per cent, which helped Apple to gain 2.4 percentage points in market share.
Samsung still leads global sales with 21.9 per cent of the market and Apple is second with 14.6 per cent.
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