Windows Phone growth plateaus in Europe, Xiaomi beats Samsung in China

Windows Phone growth plateaus in Europe, Xiaomi beats Samsung in China

Summary: There's a new order in China among smartphone vendors, while Nokia's growth spurt in Europe appears to have run out of steam.


Nokia and Windows Phone's impressive growth in Europe last year hit a wall in the final months of 2013 — stuck, it seems, at 10 percent. 

The rapid rise of Windows Phone in Europe last year, due mainly to increases in Nokia sales — in particular its low-end Lumia 520 and 620 — came to end in the three months to December 31, according to figures from Kantar World Panel Comtech published on Monday.

Despite Nokia being the third most commonly "gifted" smartphone brand in the all-important Christmas period (behind Samsung and Apple), it failed to move the needle in Europe for Windows Phone.

Across Europe's big five markets (Germany, the UK, France, Italy, and Spain), Windows Phone accounted for 10.3 percent of sales, up year-on-year, but flat quarter-on-quarter.

"Windows Phone has now held double digit share across Europe for three consecutive months. Unfortunately for Nokia the European smartphone market is only growing at 3 percent year-on-year so success in this market has not been enough to turn around its fortunes — reflected in its recent disappointing results. Its performance also deteriorated toward the end of 2013 in the important growth markets of China, USA and Latin America," said Kantar's strategic insights director, Dominic Sunnebo.

The report follows Nokia's confirmation last week that Lumia sales were 8.2 million for the last quarter of 2013. Nokia sold 8.8 million Lumia devices in Q3, up from 7.4 million the quarter before, which Nokia attributed at the time to increased sales of the Lumia 520.

Nokia in November launched the Lumia 525, a variant of the Lumia 520 with slightly improved specs, but the launch was limited to emerging markets, bypassing Europe and the US.

In the final three months of 2013, Windows Phone accounted for 5.9 percent of smartphone sales in Germany, 11.3 percent in the UK, 11.4 percent in France, 17.1 percent in Italy, and 5.6 percent in Spain.

Android still dominates in Europe's big five with 68.6 percent share of sales, followed by iOS at 18.5 percent.

Meanwhile, in the US, Windows Phone made up 4.3 percent of sales, behind Android at 50.6 percent and iOS at 43.9 percent.

Xiaomi topples Samsung in China?

Samsung, the world's largest smartphone manufacturer, is also beginning to face challenges in key markets, including in Europe and China, according to Kantar. The analyst notes Samsung sales were down 2.2 percentage points year on year in Europe to 40.3 percent.

Samsung also lost its crown in China to upstart Xiaomi — maker of the Mi2, Mi3 and low-end Red Rice phone — which became the country's biggest smartphone seller.

"In December, Xiaomi overtook both Apple and Samsung to become the top selling smartphone in China — a truly remarkable achievement for a brand which was only started in 2010 and sells its device almost exclusively online," Sunnebo said.

"The combination of high spec devices, low prices and an ability to create unprecedented buzz through online and social platforms has proved an irresistible proposition for the Chinese."

Xiaomi has previously pipped Apple for market share in China, but hasn't come close to knocking Samsung from its perch. In November, analyst firm Canalys reported Samsung's share in China was 21 percent, well ahead of local rivals such as Xiaomi, as well as Apple. None of Samsung's rivals had double-digit shares at the time.

In China, Windows Phone's market share is 1.1 percent, behind iOS at 19 percent and Android at 78.6 percent.

More on Windows Phone

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, iOS, Samsung, China, EU, Windows Phone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Rubbish

    "The rapid rise of Windows Phone in Europe last year, due mainly to increases in Nokia sales — in particular its low-end Lumia 520 and 620 — came to end in the three months to December 31, according to figures from Kantar World Panel Comtech published on Monday."

    So a 100% YOY increase in shipment number, and a sizeable increase YOY in market share, indicate that Lumia phones are no longer enjoying rapid sales? Seriously? Everyone dwells on the quarter to quarter metric for Lumia phones, and the standard YOY metric for virtually all other phones, and then pretend about being fair in their reporting.

    Even with the Lumia's impressive performance, MS needs to drive sales of higher end WPs, through stores in stores, pop up stores, and if possible, Barnes and Noble stores, as much as possible.
    P. Douglas
    • For Nokia and WP YoY growth is not the most important

      Because they are starting behind and trying to conquer a space in mobile phone market.
      The stall in the last quarter is a clear sign that Nokia (and with it, WP) doesn't stand a chance as it is currently, not even to reach a 10% market share.

      Not only the number of units was smaller for the in theory best quarter, as the ASP decreased again, making the income even a darker matter for Nokia - the income hit was much more severe than the units sale alone.
      Obviously people can still argue about the amazing Yoy growth, but I bet with those that after these results, in q4/2014 the story will be different if nothing is done.
      The reality is that WP is stopped, or even going backwards, there was no temporary reason that can explain it - Nokia released many new phones (they were amazing with their pace), season was the best, global market is still growing, ASP price came lower.

      The explanation is simple, they just couldn't keep up with the competition and I could add (maybe a wild theory) that people doesn't have Microsoft in their hearts.
      • Bad spin effort

        Your efforts at spinning Nokia performance, is itself poor.

        As for Nokia's problem with selling cheap Lumias, that likely has to do with WP's age old problem of salespeople bias in retail stores. As far as I'm concerned, if MS puts up pop stores in most malls in the US, it would start seeing sales of its Lumia 1020 and other high end phones take off and remain high. MS could let carrier and other stores continue to sell low end Lumias - since retail staff don't seem to mind selling these phones - but rely on its own stores to sell its higher end phones.
        P. Douglas
        • I think it was a fair comment

          For a challenger entrant that's looking for momentum, you want quarter over quarter growth. No product ever went viral YOY.

          This is something you would particularly want to see in a Christmas quarter. While it isn't the end of the world (all products fluctuate), it is pretty clearly not great news either.
        • Do you really think Nokia is doing great?

          Or that WP is being a success?
          There is nothing wrong in selling cheap Lumias, the wrong is that Nokia is no longer winning share, it's not making more income, is still unprofitable with smartphones.
          I'm not even discussing if it's a sales problem, a distribution problem, a perception problem,or whatever, while I have my own ideas what I'm saying now is that there is a problem.
          Lumia 1020?!! Are you sure, sales of 1020 are basically non existent, like someone reported recently, in Amazon Casio is selling more smartphones than Nokia 1020s. WP is the cheap smartphone and that's the way to go for them.

          I don't have intention to spin the facts, if you want to believe things look rosy for Nokia and Microsoft regarding WP and mobile phones in general - be my guest.

          My "spining" of the facts is so bad that what I said about Nokia and WP 1, 2 and more years ago is still true today - you can search some of my posts also here at ZDNet.
  • Windows Phone Growth

    Regarding flat growth for Nokia, any chance this is a reflection of Microsoft's purchase? Many articles have been written about Nokia's brand recognition being a major reason for why folks were purchasing it. Perhaps purchasing even though it was on the Windows Phone platform. Is there a negative to Microsoft owning it and once the Nokia name is gone, will things continue in the wrong direction?
    • Doubt it

      Most tech folks know about that purchase, but few "people on the street" do. I do not think this would have depressed demand.
  • Canalys single digit for Apple in November versus 19% for iOS now?

    Wierd statistics.

    Anyway, in Russia Samsung kept #1 place in smartphones, though its share was significantly eaten by (mostly) Apple and other competitors.
  • Nokia brand is damaged

    As an owner of a Nokia Lumia 925 I have to say that one issue they have now is that the Nokia brand is associated with cheap dumb phones. Once the name was a big advantage now its not this is why they will be getting rid of it and keeping the Lumia brand.
  • No expert on the numbers

    There are plenty of phones in the high end market slugging it out, I can see why WP8 does not do well in that space. You spend that much for a phone, you want the ecosystem to back it up.

    But I tested out the Lumina 520 and only planned to use for a week or so but I am now a month on this phone and am just impressed with such a high quality phone at such a low price. I have recommended this phone to a few people who are getting their first smart phone as they have no expectations of apps. The UI is solid and fluid and very nice. The removable battery and SD Card makes this a great MP3 player or GPS even if you did not get a data plan. Then add the value added Here maps from Nokia that gives you full local maps download of almost the whole world and I can see why this device dominates some smaller markets on the low end.

    At this point, all WP needs is apps. If MS can pull their heads of of their a^% long enough to get their unified code base going, get Metro apps running in Windows on the desktop, and stop screwing the devs over by changed the APIs and scripting languages, they might get some growth in apps.
    Rann Xeroxx
  • Its about the App Vendors

    When a company outsources their mobile app to a Vendor, the Vendor's always offer a package deal. First they create a code base, then they port it to various platforms. Right now the package deal is for iOS / Android. It would be very easy and cheap to port for Windows Phone as well, but for some reason Windows Phone is not in their default package. For example; if your a Bank, you outsource your mobile app, you sign up for a package deal, and you only get iOS / Android most of the time. The bank not even realize they missed a few platforms. Sad, but true.

    Lets get these big Vendors to include Windows Phone in their package;
    Sean Foley