Smartphone sales in Europe: Samsung weakens but does not break

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Counterpoint has delivered its verdict on smartphone sales in Europe in the third quarter. Still the leader, Samsung is losing ground while Chinese manufacturers, led by Xiaomi, continue their ascent.

The European smartphone market is going through a complicated period, marked by an unprecedented health crisis and a shortage of components. The latter risks upsetting the plans of many manufacturers at the end of the year and could reshuffle the plans on the Old Continent. In recent years, Chinese manufacturers have been shaking up the hierarchy of smartphone manufacturers and some have even gone so far as to threaten the domination of Samsung and Apple. The two giants are still there but after the Huawei threat, it is the turn of Xiaomi and several young brands to progress rapidly.

The latest Counterpoint study confirms that the European smartphone market appears to be “Have largely recovered” the effects of the crisis, even though sales are now feeling the impact of the chip shortage. In the third quarter of 2021, sales fell very slightly (-1%) compared to the same period last year and were down 4% compared to the second quarter. Without its Galaxy Note range, Samsung retains the lead in volume on the Old Continent with a market share of 30.4%, against 35.8% in the third quarter of 2020. The South Korean giant is losing ground despite efforts to exist on entry and mid-range with its Galaxy A range.

The ranking of smartphone brands in Europe in the third quarter of 2021. © Counterpoint Research

This decline can also be explained by the firm’s desire to set aside its ambitions in the traditional smartphone segment, in order to promote the emergence of folding models. Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 and this strategy seems to be paying off. Galaxy Z Flip 3 is popular, Counterpoint says “Especially in Western Europe” and the situation could have been worse in his absence. Its more accessible price may explain the interest of users for this model.

Xiaomi and Apple make progress, but component shortage threatens

The podium is completed by Xiaomi (23.6%) and Apple (22.1%) who are having a good time, with different methods. The Chinese manufacturer is progressing everywhere in Europe (+ 51% over one year) by increasing the number of models, as evidenced by the launch of the 11T and 11T Pro in September. Turned to the high end, Apple has benefited from the launch of the iPhone 13 to progress (24% over one year) and is behind Xiaomi. With demand higher than that recorded for the iPhone 12, the end of the year could help the Californian giant to shake up the leading duo, in particular with the absence of Galaxy S21 FE at Samsung. However, we will need to be able to meet demand if we are to hope for a record fourth quarter in Europe.

Counterpoint also notes that Xiaomi and Apple experienced disruptions in September 2021 due to the shortage of components. To remedy this, Apple would have chosen to favor the production of its smartphones by slowing down that of the iPad.

While Apple benefited from the release of the iPhone 13, Xiaomi suffered from the component shortage in September. © Counterpoint Research

Behind this trio, Oppo stands out and monopolizes 10.1% market share. The firm took advantage of its merger with OnePlus to emerge as the fourth force in Europe (+ 112% over one year), thanks in particular to the launch of the Reno6 and Reno6 Pro. The strongest growth can be attributed to the young brands Realme (+ 160% over one year) and Vivo (+ 238%) which has just blown its first candle on the European market. In this top 10, we will also remember the progress of Motorola and Nokia (HMD), while Honor and Huawei have fallen sharply over the last twelve months. The Honor brand, however, hopes to raise its head with its Honor 50 series which embeds Google services.

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