IDC: Smartphone slowdown in European markets

The Western European mobile market has dropped in Q1 as consumers continue to prefer smartphones over standard mobile phones.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

IDC says that the Western European mobile phone market continues to shrink as the feature phone market continues to lose ground against smartphone adoption.

The research firm's latest report states that in Q1 2013, total mobile phone shipments dropped 4.2 percent year-on-year to 43.6 million units worldwide, based on data from IDC's European Mobile Phone Tracker.

As tech firms expand their smartphone product lines to include both high and low-end models, consumers continue to adopt smartphones over feature phones. In Q1, smartphone shipments increased 12 percent year-on-year to 31.6 million units, losing steam due to economic deterioration -- but still punching a hole in feature phone marketshare.

Most Western European countries are in the throes of a fragile economic state and consequently there is less disposable income available to consumers. However, businesses are also feeling the pinch; cutting handset subsidies to reduce their costs and as a result, customers are waiting longer before replacing devices.

IDC says in Northern Europe, smartphone penetration is "reaching a tipping point," which has also impacted shipment rates. As most users already have a smartphone and the economy is weak, many consumers will not purchase a new model until contracts have expired or the device breaks down.

"We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption in the region. The first wave was driven by those users looking for devices that would meet their mobility needs. They did look for the best devices in terms of performance and user experience, and more importantly, they were able to afford and pay a premium to get a premium experience. We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption, which will be driven by those users with no need for a smartphone," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research director at IDC.

"These new users are looking to replace their current feature phones with another feature phone, as smartphones are fancy gadgets that they don't feel the need to have. However, when they go to a phone shop most of the options available are smartphones only."

In terms of operating system, Android continues to dominate. In Q1, Google's OS shipped 21.9 million units and marketshare increase to 69 percent in comparison to 55 percent in Q1 2012. Apple's iOS market share declined from 25 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in Q1 2013. Windows Phone has managed to secure a slight increase in marketshare; rising from four percent in Q1 2012 to six percent in Q1 2013.

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