Smartphone shipments to Gulf states rise

GCC smartphone market hits US$2.17bn in Q4 2021, up 12.5% QoQ

The shipments of mobile phones to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region grew 8.3% quarter on quarter (QoQ) in Q4 2021 to a total 6.10 million units, said a report.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, smartphone shipments were up 6.3% QoQ to 5.39 million units, while feature phone shipments grew 26.8% over the same period to 0.7 million units.

In terms of value, the GCC smartphone market was worth $2.17 billion in Q4 2021, an increase of 12.5% QoQ, while the feature phone market totalled $15.07 million, up 32.1%, the report pointed out.

While supply shortages continued throughout Q4 2021, the launch of new iOS devices in the high-premium range ($1,000<$1,600) and Android devices in the mid to high-end range ($400<$600) helped drive significant QoQ growth in both units and value.

Saudi Arabia accounted for 56.0% of all smartphone shipments to the GCC in Q4 2021, with shipments to the country increasing 7.8% QoQ. The region's second-largest market, the UAE, saw smartphone shipments increase 7.2% QoQ in Q4 2021 to account for 22.6% of the region's total.

The GCC smartphone market is forecast to decline by 3.8% QoQ in Q1 2022, with consumer demand set to fall as inflation increases. While travel and tourism continue to normalise, the negative impact of supply shortages will prevent a significant pickup.

"Greater 5G penetration is inevitable as the technology becomes more widely available on consistently cheaper devices," said Ramazan Yavuz, a senior research manager at IDC. "5G devices accounted for 37.6% of the GCC smartphone market in Q4 2021, with shipments increasing 13.6% QoQ. 5G shipments will continue to see rapid growth as the technology becomes standard in mid-tier price bands among Android vendors, and we expect them to make up 79.1% of the total GCC smartphone market by the end of 2026."

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