High prices mean when it comes to choosing their next phone, Europeans are thinking small

High prices mean when it comes to choosing their next phone, Europeans are thinking small

Summary: Across the biggest smartphone markets in Europe, smaller manufacturers are on the rise.

Huawei is making progress in Europe. Image: CNET

There might be little change among Europe's favourite smartphone OSes, but smaller manufacturers are carving out a growing slice of the continent's mobile market.

According to researchers Kantar Worldpanel, less well-known mobile makers are on the rise in Europe's larger economies. Across France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK, Huawei now holds three percent of the smartphone market, with sales rising by 123 percent since last year. The Chinese manufacturer has done best in Germany and Spain, where its market share was five percent for the three months to April.

Over the quarter, relative unknown Wiko — a French Android maker which focuses on the affordable smartphone market, offering an octacore mobile for around €350 unlocked — also made progress. In its home market, it now has an eight percent market share, and also saw triple digit growth, Kantar said.

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

According to Sunnebo, the trend for operators to ask consumers to pay more of the device cost upfront – rather than absorbing it into monthly tariffs as they've done historically – means that would-be buyers are "shopping around to find cheaper alternatives". As a result, they're turning to less established brands who can offer all the smartphone functionality buyers want but at a lower price.

In the five main smartphone markets, Android is still by far the dominant operating system, with over 72.4 percent market share. iOS is a distant second at 17.5 percent, while Windows Phone has 8.4 percent.

The UK is bucking the trend somewhat, however, with Android on around 58 percent of the market, iOS on 30 percent, and Windows Phone with 9.5 percent. It's the lowest share for Android among the big five markets and the highest for iOS.

Windows Phone though has made most progress in Italy, where it has notched up 11.8 percent share.

Read more on mobile in Europe

Topics: Mobility, Android, iOS, Mobile OS, Smartphones, EU, Windows Phone

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Commoditisation

    This is a sign that smartphones are moving from premium tech items to ordinary everyday items. The traction that smartphones have had has been phenomenal but with that comes saturation.

    Initially people lapped up expensive iPhones as THE new shiny toy. Then it seemed that other companies copied iPhones (Apple seemed to say as much) and they were cheaper so they start buying Samsung instead.

    Now most people have tablets that are good for a few years and probably PCs and laptops that can go for even longer. Heck plenty of people cope quite well with a an iPad2.

    The question forming in my mind and that of others is "Do I really need to get a new phone, every 18-24 months and if I do, do I need to spend lots of money?"

    Compared to when it was new, there is not much my 2 year old S3 with its 64GB sd card can't do. Most apps I want work just fine. It may not be the fastest but will I really suffer if I were to keep it for say another 12 months?
    • Totally agree

      I had an S2 for ages, only got rid of it last December. Reason was simple really, dumped it with the 7" tab and got a Note.
      I custom Rom my devices so always pretty up to date with the current version, and as software demands on hardware are decreasing all the time, no reason to upgrade to any of this years current flagships.
      Can't see the Note 10" being replaced any time soon, and as for the laptop, it's die before being upgraded.
      Even $200 chromebooks are offering a minimum 5 years of upgrades before EOL support ends.