The UAE Smartphone Market
The premium smartphone market in the UAE is expected to grow by around 12% this year despite an overall flat market. The average volume of the UAE smartphone market is about two million devices per quarter. Out of which, the volume of the premium segment is about half a million units per quarter, which is roughly one third.
Consumers who are sitting on a two or three-year flagship are expected to upgrade this year. Two years back, the average replacement cycle of a smartphone was 2.4 years but now it is three years as people are holding onto their devices for a longer period and which in turn is hurting manufacturers, however, all the premium devices launched this year have upgraded features compared to the old ones. the global smartphone market is expected to fall by 2% or 3% but the premium market is going up by 18% this year. “The UAE is driven by three brands – Samsung, Apple, and Huawei – and contributes about 70 per cent to the overall market. But these brands contribute 90% to the overall premium market volume,” said Tarun Pathak associate director at research firm there. As the Chinese market is getting soaked, it is a good opportunity for other Chinese players such as Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus to expand into the Middle East and European markets and focus on premium products “The UAE is more mature than other countries in the region and consumers are ready to embrace any new technology. So, most of the Chinese brands need to focus on premium brands, irrespective of the size of the market,” Pathak said.
Chinese Companies in the UAE
Small Chinese companies need to get involved in the UAE market and build their brand image in a bid to expand to other markets but they should never enter the market as without enthusiasm it will backfire and will have an impact on brand credibility. “Middle East is totally a different market when compared to the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, you have local players, global players such as Huawei, Samsung and Apple, and other Chinese players but in the Middle East, you won’t find Xiaomi, Oppo, OnePlus and Vivo, and the reason is that the capital expenditure to enter the market is huge,” he said. According to a survey globally by Counterpoint Research, consumers are looking at a device from an overall experience point of view. “The hardware is more or less the same across the brands. So, most of the brands will be focusing on locking their consumers to their ecosystem such as services play and bundling of content going forward