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Sat 11 Jul 2015 09:34 AM

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GCC's mobile devices market grows by 16.7% in Q1

International Data Corp figures reveal that Saudi Arabia is driving growth in shipments of smartphones, tablets, and portable PCs

GCC's mobile devices market grows by 16.7% in Q1

The GCC's mobile connected devices market expanded 16.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2015 and saw record shipments of over 8.7 million units.

According to figures by global consulting services firm International Data Corporation (IDC), the increase in shipments of smartphones, tablets, and portable PCs to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait was spurred by lower average selling prices and increasing penetration levels.

The IDC also cited the continued efforts of new vendors to make their way into the region's markets and claim a piece of the pie as being key to the growth in Q1.

The Saudi market accounted for over 50 percent of the mobile connected devices shipped across the GCC in Q1, with the UAE ranking second with approximately 26 percent share of the market's volume.

IDC said Saudi Arabia's dominance can be attributed to its sheer size and the rapid rate at which IT adoption is occurring across the kingdom.

Greater growth in the GCC was hindered by the negative impact of political and economic events in Kuwait, which recorded the only negative performance in the region's mobile connected devices, with shipments falling 10 percent year on year, IDC added.

"The factors that contributed to the Kuwaiti market's decline included internal government issues that resulted in the delay of various infrastructure projects (including IT), as well as market saturation in the smartphone, tablet, and portable PCs categories," the IDC report said.

Qatar recorded the region's highest rate of year-on-year growth in Q1, with shipments up by more than 45 percent, driven by ongoing projects and initiatives associated with enhancing the country's infrastructure and its continuing preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

IDC said it expects the GCC's mobile connected devices market to continue growing over the coming years, with shipments forecast to increase from a total of 35 million units in 2015 to 45 million in 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.6 percent.

The GCC smartphone market grew 21 percent year on year in volume terms during Q1, taking share away from the feature phone category, which declined 14 percent over the same period.

"The sheer magnitude of declining ASPs is a major factor that continues to drive the adoption of smartphones, with 500 percent growth seen in shipments of smartphones priced below $150," said Saad Elkhadem, a research analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. "This is a trend is being driven by vendors like Samsung, Lenovo, and Huawei, and is set to continue over the coming quarters."

The region's tablet market recorded a year-on year growth of 9.9 percent in Q1, in stark contrast to the performance of the overall Middle East and Africa market, which suffered its first ever decline over the same period.

In contrast, the GCC's portable PC market experienced a year-on-year decline of 6.4 percent in Q1. The major market inhibitor was the continuing shift towards tablets and smartphones, with this trend being felt more strongly in the consumer segment than in the commercial space.

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