The European smartphone market experienced its worst first quarter in almost a decade and analysts on Counterpoint research warn that things are getting worse before they get better.
The market fell 12% compared to the first three months last year. With only 49 million smartphones shipped, this was the worst 1st quarter since 2013. Only one of the top 5 brands experienced growth – Realme doubled its market share.
Samsung remains the best smartphone maker on the old continent. However, its shipments have still fallen by 16% compared to Q1 last year. Apple actually increased one percentage point (year over year), but its shipments also dropped slightly (-6%).
In the first quarter of this year, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series and Apple’s affordable iPhone SE (3rd generation) were launched, but they could not withstand the general downturn in the market.
The downturn was caused by several factors – there is still a shortage of components, which is exacerbated by COVID-19-related shutdowns in China, there is also rising inflation and the war in Ukraine.
The war is affecting the market in a few ways. First, Samsung and Apple withdrew from Russia. They used to ship about half of all smartphones in the country (however, these shipments were only 6% of the total number in Europe). The companies withdrew at the end of the quarter, so that the full effects will be felt in the second quarter.
This is part of the reason why analysts believe things will get worse in the second quarter. Nor is it just the telephone shipments that the war can reduce the availability of raw materials used to build electronics. European countries are also experiencing sharp increases in the cost of living, so fewer people will buy new phones.
Xiaomi continued down the list and suffered the biggest drop – its shipments have dropped 36% compared to last year. Oppo maintained its share over the others, but that still means fewer phones were shipped (note: Oppo numbers include OnePlus). Realme is counted separately, and it moved 67% more phones than in Q1 2021, so it doubled its market share.
Last year, the European market was on the road to recovery as it grew by 8% (compared to the weak 2020). That recovery has stopped with a decline in Q1 and a gloomy forecast for Q2 (and even more quarters after that).