Smartphone Shipments in Gulf region Surge in Q3 2023 Despite Looming Challenges

Smartphone shipments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region witnessed a robust upswing, registering a 13.2 percent year-on-year surge during the third quarter of 2023.

Mobile data user in Gulf smartphone market
Image by marymarkevich on Freepik

Additionally, the smartphone market in GCC exhibited a commendable 3.7 percent growth compared to the preceding quarter, signaling resilience and buoyancy amid evolving consumer preferences.

Notably, the GCC’s two powerhouse markets, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, spearheaded this surge by recording substantial annual growth in smartphone shipments. This encouraging trend was mirrored in the Average Selling Prices (ASPs) across the region, experiencing both annual and quarterly escalations. These escalations were primarily catalyzed by the introduction of new, sought-after models in the high-end and premium price segments, specifically priced above $600.

Dominating the GCC smartphone market in terms of shipments during Q3 2023 was Samsung, securing the top spot, closely trailed by Apple in second place and Xiaomi in third.

Despite a year-on-year uptick in Apple’s shipments during Q3 2023, the Cupertino giant experienced a downturn compared to the previous quarter. Industry analysts attribute this decline to channel adjustments and preparations preceding the release of the highly anticipated iPhone 15 series.

In contrast, Samsung witnessed a dip in year-on-year shipments but marked an uptick from the previous quarter. This surge was attributed to the sustained popularity of its midrange A-series and premium S-series devices, maintaining the brand’s stronghold in the market.

Xiaomi emerged as a formidable player in the market during Q3 2023, recording commendable annual and quarterly growth. The brand’s robust performance was underpinned by strong shipments of its Note 12 series and 13 line, securing a firm footing in the fiercely competitive landscape.

However, despite this positive growth trajectory, distribution channels in the GCC face formidable challenges. Profitability remains low, and demand is sluggish, further exacerbated by rapidly fluctuating price structures and restrained budgets. According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, these factors are significantly dampening the potential for accelerated growth in the market.

Adding to the complexity, the GCC smartphone market grapples with a negative global economic outlook, prompting IDC to forecast only marginal growth prospects for the market in 2024. The combination of sluggish demand, pricing challenges, and economic uncertainties casts a shadow on the market’s short-term growth potential.