COVID-19 Weighs on European Smartphone Market in Q1 2020

  • The viral outbreak followed by lockdowns caused the Europe smartphone market to contract by 7% YoY and 23% QoQ
  • Apple remained resilient while Huawei declined sharply for the quarter – though this was more than COVID-related

New Delhi, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, San Diego, London, Buenos Aires – June 3rd, 2020

Smartphone sales declined 7% year-on-year (YoY) and 23% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) in Europe during Q1 2020 amid COVID-19 outbreak, according to Counterpoint’s Market Pulse service. The impact of the pandemic was relatively stronger for Western Europe, down 9% YoY, than for Eastern Europe, down 5% YoY.

Commenting on the overall market, Peter Richardson, VP of Research said, “Q1 is seasonally weak, but the coronavirus outbreak amplified this. The smartphone market decline was primarily due to COVID-19 outbreak across the region in the second half of the quarter. The biggest five markets in Europe entered lockdowns of varying severity at different points in March. Consequently, most of the offline stores were closed, though online remained open throughout. Also, the economic impact of the pandemic has led to lengthening replacement cycles as consumers withhold making discretionary purchases.”

Europe Smartphone Sales Market Share (%), Q1 2019 vs Q1 2020
Europe Smartphone Sales Market Share (%), Q1 2019 vs Q1 2020

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Italy was the worst affected of all European countries, driving the smartphone market to a 21% YoY decline. In other markets, some operators such as Vodafone, and retailers such as Dixons Carphone were able to adjust to the sharply higher online demand and somewhat offset the decline. Others however, like Mediamarkt/Saturn in Germany, had underinvested in digital channels and lost sales due to store closures.

Coronavirus did not officially make its presence felt in Russia until late March/early April and hence the market remained relatively resilient in Q1 2020, declining just 1%.

Counterpoint Europe Smartphone Market Q1 2020
Counterpoint Europe Smartphone Market Q1 2020

Commenting on the top OEMs in the European market, Abhilash Kumar, Research Analyst said, “Samsung continues to lead the chart for Q1 2020. This is driven by Samsung’s diversified portfolio across all price bands. Also, marketing campaigns around the Galaxy S20 launch boosted its overall sales. Unlike Chinese OEMs, Samsung had no supply issues and was not impacted by China lockdown worries.  Apple remained flat for the quarter and showed its resilience during the COVID-19 crisis. The iPhone 11 series continues to perform well, despite a lack of supply in some markets and some channels. However, the expensive models slowed considerably in March. Huawei declined a sharp 43% YoY for the quarter as the US trade sanctions continue to bite. Xiaomi has been the biggest beneficiary from Huawei’s decline as it grew 145% YoY capturing 11% share in the quarter.”

Key market summary:

  • Huawei’s co-brand Honor led the Russian smartphone market in Q1 2020.
  • Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi and OPPO benefited from Huawei’s continuing struggles and hence grew more than 150% YoY for the quarter driven by strong performances in Russia, UK, France.
  • 5G smartphone sales accounted for 4% of the overall market sales in Europe in Q1 2020.
  • Apple iPhone 11 was the best-selling model in Europe in Q1 2020.

Analyst Contacts:

Peter Richardson

Abhilash Kumar

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