Huawei and Xiaomi smartphone shares surge in Europe amid market decline

The Chinese vendors have further narrowed the gap in smartphone sales over market leaders Samsung and Apple in the region.

Chinese smartphone brands are doing a good job in Europe despite smartphone shipments declining an unprecedented 6.3 percent in the first quarter this year, with Western Europe reporting the biggest fall in the region.

The entire Western part of the region declined 13.9 percent to 30.1 million in total shipments, with British, French, and German markets declining 29.6 percent, 23.2 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively, research agency Canalys said in a report on Wednesday.

Unlike market leaders Samsung and Apple, which reported 15.4 percent and 5.4 percent declines in shipments during the past quarter, Huawei bucked the trend by growing 38.6 percent and shipping 7.4 million units in the three-month period.

Huawei, the third-largest vendor in the region, saw its market share climb to 16.1 percent in the quarter, trailing behind Samsung's 33.1 percent and Apple's 22.2 percent.

Xiaomi, ranked fourth by shipping 2.4 million smartphones in the past quarter, reported growth of more than 10 times that of the same period last year, with a share of 5.3 percent in the region, according to Canalys.

"This is a new era for smartphones in Europe," said Ben Stanton, an analyst at Canalys. "The few remaining growth markets are not enough to offset the saturated ones. We are moving from a growth era to a cyclical era. This presents a brand new challenge to the incumbents, and we expect several smaller brands to leave the market in the coming years."

Samsung's undesired performance in the past quarter was due to pressure from Huawei and Xiaomi's low-end and mid-range models. Apple, despite outperforming the market and shipping over 10 million units, saw its iPhone X decline slightly from the fourth quarter of 2017, making up 25 percent in terms of models it shipped. But the expensive handset remained comfortably the best-shipping smartphone in the region.

Canalys also indicated that Huawei's primary shipments in the quarter are cheaper handsets due to a delay of its expensive flagship P20 phones. Although Huawei's shipments expanded nearly 40 percent in the quarter, it only managed to boost its shipment value by 1.7 percent over the previous year. Conversely, the high price of the Galaxy S9, as well as its earlier launch in the calendar year than the Galaxy S8, helped Samsung boost its shipment value by over 20 percent, according to the research agency.

"Flagship smartphone features have been increasingly commoditized by budget brands, which are bringing these specifications to the mid-market. The likes of Honor, Wiko, and Xiaomi have been instrumental in driving growth in specifications such as dual and triple cameras, which grew over 150 percent on the previous year," said the report.

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