The GCC mobile phone market experienced a decline in shipments in the second quarter of 2018, according to the latest figures announced by International Data Corporation (IDC).
The global technology research and consulting firm said overall shipments to the region fell 9.9 percent year on year and 2.1 percent compared to the previous quarter to total 5.8 million units.
The market’s poor performance stemmed from a fifth consecutive quarter of decline for the smartphone segment, with shipments of these devices down 14.3 percent on an annual basis.
The figures also showed that shipments of feature phones saw mild growth of 0.9 percent compared to Q1 and 1.4 percent on an annual basis.
In the UAE, smartphone shipments were down 10.9 percent since Q1, with the country’s overall mobile market declining 8.8 percent.
“The UAE market continues to struggle,” said Nabila Popal, a senior research manager at IDC. “This is not only true in the mobile space but across large swathes of the UAE retail sector. Indeed, traditional shops in the heart of old Dubai that used to be the centre of trade and commerce are shutting down.”
IDC said smartphone shipments to Saudi Arabia were up in Q2 for the first time in four quarters.
“This growth primarily stems from the implementation of a new import policy that requires all phones to carry IECEE certification,” said Kafil Merchant, a research analyst at IDC.
“A consequence of this policy is that there has been a significant reduction in gray shipments to the kingdom, with a subsequent increase in official shipments to meet demand. However, with the introduction of a dependent tax causing millions of expats to make plans to leave the country, vendors targeting the Saudi market will continue to face a significant challenge.”
Elsewhere in the GCC, overall mobile shipments were down 2.8 percent in Qatar, 5.4 percent in Bahrain, 5.6 percent in Oman, and 0.5 percent in Kuwait since the previous quarter.
In terms of the smartphone vendor landscape, Samsung maintained its lead in Q2 with 34.2 percent share, followed by Apple and Huawei (24.3 percent and 16.5 percent respectively).
Looking ahead, IDC said it expects 2018 to be a very tough year for the industry, with overall mobile phone shipments to the GCC forecast to decline 12.9 percent compared to the year-earlier period.
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