The Western European Mobile Phone Market Declines in 1Q13, Driven by the Smartphone Slowdown, says IDC
Source: IDC Press Release View: 238 Date: 2013-06-26

The Western European mobile phone market shrank in the first quarter of 2013 due to a lower than expected slowdown in the smartphone shipments, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). Total shipments dropped 4.2% year on year to 43.6 million units, according to IDC’s European Mobile Phone Tracker, published in May 2013.

The feature phones segment continued to lose ground as consumers adopt smartphones. Shipments fell 31% year on year to 12 million units. The smartphone segment also lost some steam in the first quarter. Shipments increased 12% year on year to 31.6 million units in the quarter, which was the lowest growth rate since IDC started tracking the mobile phone market in 2004.

Most Western European countries experienced a slowdown in smartphone sales as economies deteriorated, with a consequent decline in disposable income for consumers. Mobile operators are also cutting handset subsidies to reduce their costs as revenues decline. This is particularly impacting the Southern European economies, where consumers refrain from replacing their mobile phones for longer periods. In Northern Europe, smartphone penetration is reaching a tipping point, which has started to impact the smartphone growth, as most users already have a smartphone and will not replace it until the contract ends or the device breaks.

In Western Europe, phone makers are facing the most challenging time ever; the economic environment is impacting demand, while users are buying cheaper handsets, which impacts manufacturers margins.

"We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption in the region. The first wave was driven by those users looking for devices that would meet their mobility needs. They did look for the best devices in terms of performance and user experience, and more importantly, they were able to afford and pay a premium to get a premium experience. We are now entering the second wave of smartphone adoption, which will be driven by those users with no need for a smartphone," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research director at IDC. "These new users are looking to replace their current feature phones with another feature phone, as smartphones are fancy gadgets that they don’t feel the need to have. However, when they go to a phone shop most of the options available are smartphones only; their friends, colleagues and family may have smartphones and are always talking about the latest apps, and the cheapest smartphones they note are most likely to be as low in price as the last feature phone they bought. With a small push from sales people, the sale is almost guaranteed. But they will buy one of the cheapest smartphones as they still see no value for money."

In terms of operating system, Android continues to dominate the smartphone landscape. In the quarter, Google’s OS shipped 21.9 million units and market share increased to 69% in 1Q13 from 55% in last years’ first quarter. Apple’s iOS continues to lose ground as market share declined to 20% from 25% in 1Q12. Windows Phone improved its position to become the third biggest OS in the region, but it still represents a tiny percentage of the smartphones shipped. Its market share rose to 6% in 1Q13 from 4% in 1Q12.

For more information on IDC’s European Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker service and its related deliverables, please contact Francisco Jeronimo, research director, IDC Western European mobile communications group (, tel.: +44(0)20 8987 7186), or visit

About IDC

IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For more than 44 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting

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