Spain, France to blame as smartphone market value falls in Europe

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The value of smartphone sales in Western Europe has fallen for the first time, dragged down by Spain and France as device penetration reaches saturation point.

According to findings from German research institute GfK, a total of 31.5 million smartphones were sold in Western Europe during Q1, marking a 12 percent increase on the same period in 2014. 

However, a weaker performance in Spanish and French markets meant sales value totalled $12.4 billion (€10.9 billion) during the period, compared to $12.5 billion (€11 billion) twelve months ago.

[Read more: Lack of innovation to hit smartphone sales in Europe, claims report]

Regardless, the region was the second-largest contributor to the total 309.7 billion smartphones sold in Western Europe in the three months to March.

Thirty-one and a half billion units were sold in the region in Q1, a 12 percent increase on 2014’s 28.2 billion.

Western Europe came second only to China in terms of overall sales, where they totalled 92 billion. However, the Asian country saw a decrease of 14 percent compared to Q1 2014.

Kevin Walsh, director of trends and forecasting at GfK, said: “The weakness in China was caused by a significant slowdown in 3G demand, which was not offset by 4G growth.

“In Developed Asia, the year-on-year decline was caused by tough comparisons with Q1 2014, when demand was pulled forward in Japan due to an upcoming VAT increase in April.”

Despite this, the number of smartphones sold globally increased by seven percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, the value of worldwide sales increased by eight percent to over $96 billion (€85 billion) in Q1 2015.

The period also saw large-screened smartphones growing in popularity.

GfK said sales of devices with displays measuring five inches or more represented 47 percent of the global market share in Q1, up from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2014.

This was driven mainly by demand in China, where low-cost, large-screen models are “flooding into the market”, GfK said.

The unit share of 4G devices also surpassed 50 percent of global smartphone demand for the first time, with GfK forecasting this figure to grow to 59 percent in Q4 2015.

According to recent findings by the Global mobile Suppliers Association, there are now almost 3,000 LTE user devices on the market.

Walsh said: “GfK forecasts global smartphone unit demand to grow +10 percent year-on-year in 2015, a slowdown from the +23 percent growth experienced last year. Emerging Asia is forecast to be the fastest growing region, driven by India and Indonesia, where low smartphone penetration leaves plenty of room for growth.”

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