Realme is the sole winner in a declining European smartphone market

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Smartphone shipments are declining in nearly all regions of the world, but a particularly hard-hit market is Europe, as the latest report from Counterpoint Research reveals in detail.

European smartphone shipments hit their lowest point in almost a decade

Between January and March, smartphone shipments across the European continent fell by as much as 12% from twelve months earlier. The result marks the lowest Q1 shipments in nearly a decadeā€¦ Ouch. The weak results are the result of what can only be described as the perfect time. On the one hand, we have the component shortages that have dominated the headlines since 2020, coupled with recent COVID-19 lockdowns in China that have further limited supply. On the other hand, we have the deteriorating economic situation in Europe and around the world that has only worsened since Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to a cost of living crisis, supported by rising inflation. withdrawal from Russia in March has also played an important role. The market was previously Europe’s largest, with Samsung and Apple accounting for half of all shipments and their combined Russian sales equaling 6% of all European shipments.

Despite the challenges, Samsung remains the ruler of Europe

Breakdown of quarterly results by brand, Samsung successfully maintained its position as Europe’s largest smartphone seller. The South Korean company achieved a 35% market share in the first quarter of 2022.

That’s slightly less than the 37% share it captured a year earlier, but Samsung’s results are nonetheless impressive. Especially when you consider that it sold 16% fewer smartphones in the first quarter of 2022 than in the first quarter of 2021.

The first quarter was a busy quarter for Samsung, with numerous new launches, including the arrival of the Galaxy S21 FE in January, the The launch of the Galaxy S22 in February and the debut of the new Galaxy A series models in March. However, these releases were not enough to compensate for all the external factors mentioned above.

Apple’s shipments fell, but market share increased

Like Samsung, Apple faced a drop in shipments despite the launch of a new device – the affordable one iPhone SE (2022) – and a few new colors for its flagship range – Green for the iPhone 13 and Alpine Green for the iPhone 13 Pro. However, in Apple’s case, sales fell less than the market average, boosting the market from 24% to 25%. That’s enough to maintain a solid second place for Xiaomi. It also narrows the gap with Samsung to 10%.

Xiaomi was the biggest loser

A year ago we talked about how Xiaomi could be the next Samsung – it briefly overtook the latter to become the world’s largest smartphone brand in June 2021 – but that talk was short-lived.

Xiaomi has so far failed to avoid serious component shortages, leading to a whopping 36% drop in shipments across Europe in the first three months of the year, losing Xiaomi’s market share by 5 percentage points. It kept its position as Europe’s third largest brand, but Oppo is now much closer than before. Speaking of which, Oppo saw an 8% drop in shipments but remained stable in terms of market share at 6%.

Realme was the biggest winner

Rounding out the top 5 was Realme, which seems to have taken the European market by storm in recent years. It defied all odds to increase shipments by a whopping 67% year-on-year, doubling its market share to 4%.

The only brands to grow faster in Europe in the quarter were HMD Global (the brand behind Nokia) and Google, although both ship much smaller quantities of smartphones.

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