The European smartphone market had a rollercoaster of a year in 2020, experiencing a drop of 14% in sales year-on-year with April being the worst month with sales down by almost 50% on the corresponding month in 2019.
As expected, Huawei’s sales fell drastically, from 40.4 million units to 22.9 million units, a fall of 43% year-on-year.
Samsung stayed atop the sales charts, even though its sales fell by 12% year-on-year, from 67.9 million units to 59.8 million units.
The technology analyst firm Counterpoint Research said the pandemic had hit European markets hard, resulting in issues on both the demand and supply sides.
Additionally, economic and employment worries led to consumers holding back on spending while the frequent lockdowns prevented people from visiting retail outlets.
Counterpoint associate director Jan Stryjak said: “April was the worst month of the year, with sales down almost 50% on 2019. Declining cases and easing restrictions led to a recovery over the summer, but the virus came back with a vengeance.
“COVID-19 cases rose in September led to new lockdowns across Europe from November. The end of the year, therefore, saw the market decline again, despite the best efforts of Apple. Overall, 2020 saw the European smartphone market shrink by 14% versus 2019.”
The Chinese brand Xiaomi performed best, with sales rising from 14.0 million units in 2019 to 26.7 million units in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 90%.
Apple managed to sell almost as many units as in 2019 – 41.3 million units in 2020, compared to 41.7 million units in the previous year.
Other Chinese brands to gain momentum in 2020 were OPPO and realme. The former entered the market in 2018, but Counterpoint said last year was the 12-month period in which it made some serious gains.
“Partnerships with Europe’s largest operator groups – namely Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom – mean that OPPO’s devices are stocked in the vital operator channel throughout Europe,” the firm commented.
“While sales are still relatively modest in the region, market share has doubled over the year, and a strong fourth quarter puts OPPO in good stead for 2021.”
realme, meanwhile, was the fastest growing brand in the region, with sales rising from 100,000 units to 1.6 million units, meaning sales growth for 2020 of 1083%.
Research analyst Ankit Malhotra said: “The market ended the year on a strong note in Q4 backed by the demand for the 5G iPhone. This strong momentum is expected to continue in Q1 2021 as sales of iPhone 12 spill over to the next quarter and the Samsung Galaxy S21 is launched.
“The rush of flagships in Q1 from Samsung and Apple, the eventual easing of lockdowns and expectations of an economic recovery will then lay the foundation for a swift recovery of the market in 2021. Along with that, we will need to keep a keen eye on the development of 5G and the performance of new arrivals like Xiaomi, OPPO, OnePlus, vivo and realme as they attempt to fill the gap left by Huawei.”
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