While smartphones accounted for 63.8% of the market’s units in 2018, shipments of these devices increased by just 3.4% year on year.
Egypt’s mobile phone market saw shipments totaling 14.4 million units in 2018, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC). The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows that shipments were up 7.5% year on year, which marks a notable turnaround from the 20.6% decline seen in 2017, when the market’s performance was hampered by limited foreign currency reserves and the central bank’s decision to float the Egyptian pound.
While smartphones accounted for 63.8% of the market’s units in 2018, shipments of these devices increased by just 3.4% year on year. The overall market’s growth was instead driven by the feature phone category, where shipments were up 15.4% over the same period. “The stronger growth of the feature phone category is due to the overall decline in consumer purchasing power in Egypt caused by rising fuel and electricity prices,” says Taher Abdel-Hameed, a senior research analyst at IDC. “The low price points of feature phones make them very appealing to consumers with shrinking disposable incomes, leading to a surge in demand for these devices. In the smartphone space, refresh cycles are lengthening and consumers are no longer purchasing new devices as often as before.”
Of the market’s smartphone vendors, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi saw the fastest growth in 2018. Samsung continued to lead the way in terms of total shipments for 2018 as a whole, although Huawei ranked first when looking at the second half of the year in isolation – the first time Samsung has been knocked off top spot since 2012. At the other end of the scale, local brand SICO started production in Q1 2018, achieving 2.0% share of the smartphone market’s volume for the year.
Looking ahead, IDC expects the market to remain on a path to recovery, with total mobile phone shipments forecast to increase 0.8% year on year in 2019. Feature phone shipments are expected to fall 13.7% year on year, while smartphones shipments are tipped to increase 9.0% as these devices become more affordable and feature rich. “A new wave of Chinese brands are entering the market and the market will be watching closely to see whether these brands will have large marketing budgets for Egypt in 2019,” says Abdel-Hameed. “The Egyptian market is large and dynamic, and while global macroeconomic hardships will inevitably have an impact, the transformation from feature phones to smartphones will continue due to the dynamism of the country.”