It is no secret that the Middle East and African markets are relatively untapped when it comes to smartphone sales. Both smartphone companies such as Samsung, and component manufacturers such as MediaTek, have explained how they are expecting strong growth from these regions, which are still considered as developing smartphone markets. We are already seeing strong growth from the region and this looks set to continue into 2016; manufacturers have already been jostling their products into the area in order to benefit from what Counterpoint Research state: "is the next frontier and key geography for smartphone growth as growth across some of the major markets across Latin America, Asia continue to slow down… This region is not only huge geographically but is also quite diverse i.e. home to some of the most underpenetrated emerging as well as some richer mobile phone markets in the world."
Currently, a little over half of 'phones sold into the Middle East and African region are smartphones, but of these under one third support 4G LTE. Going forwards, as local carriers roll out their 4G LTE networks and customers become more aware of the higher performance Internet technologies, we can see a strong surge in LTE-capable devices. This is what MediaTek believe will drive their chipset sales into 2016: many of their products now include onboard support for LTE, from entry level through to high end System-on-Chips. Smartphone penetration is also expected to increase, too, which will drive sales.
As regards the current makeup of the Middle East and African markets, Samsung are the market leader but are experiencing a slowdown in sales growth, as they are across much of the world. During the third quarter 2015, Samsung had just over 41% of the market, benefiting from a strong distribution network and of course, massive brand awareness. Theirs is the lead to lose: sales are being eroded by competitors such as Apple, Huawei and local smartphone manufacturer, such as Tecno – but Samsung are maintaining strong volume into the region. In second place we find Chinese manufacturer Huawei, with 9.3% of the market and a solid gain from the previous period. Local manufacturer Tecno is third, with 8.2% (up from 4.8% for the third quarter 2014, a significant increase in sales) and TCL-Alcatel was in fourth place, with 4.5% and Apple are in fifth place at 3.9%. Given that sales are expected to increase during 2016, we may discover that there are plenty of customers to go around.