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European smartphone market driven by low-cost handsets

01 апреля 2010

Europe's smartphone sector is being driven primarily by growing adoption of mid to low-tier devices, a trend that contrasts with the U.S. market, according to new statistics released by comScore.

While smartphone uptake across the EU5 region (the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Italy) grew 32% last year to reach 51.6 million by January 2010, the number of consumers buying cheaper smartphones on tariffs lower than €50 per month - or £35 in the U.K. - grew by 37%.

By comparison the number of users who bought high-end devices like the iPhone on more expensive price plans grew around 24%.

"The real momentum in the smartphone market is in the mid to low tier," said Alistair Hill, senior analyst at comScore.

He pointed out to Total Telecom ahead of the announcement that 82% of U.K. mobile users pay less than £35 per month for their phone.

"Generally speaking iPhone tariffs cost more than £35 per month, so it's ruling itself out of a high proportion of the market," he said.

Hill explained that Symbian-based devices have been largely responsible for driving smartphones down through the lower tiers.

"There has been a lot of hype around Apple and Android but Symbian is without doubt the dominant player," he said.

According to comScore, Symbian's platform accounted for 60.9% of the total smartphone user base in the EU5 countries in the three months ending January 2010. Apple came in second with 14.5%, closely followed by Microsoft with 14.1%; then RIM with 8.3%, followed by Android with 2%.

The picture in Europe contrasts with that in the U.S., where RIM has the largest share of the smartphone market with 43%. Apple comes in second with 25%, followed by Microsoft with 16%, and Android with 7%, said Hill.

He said there is also more growth in the number of smartphone users paying around $100 per month than there is in the sub-$100 space.

"These figures would suggest that smartphone momentum in the U.S. is still with the high end," he commented

To further illustrate the trend, Hill pointed out that Android has been shipping on more affordable smartphones throughout Europe, not just in the high end.

Indeed, the Huawei-made Pulse launched on T-Mobile in September 2009, becoming the first prepaid Android phone, while Orange in February said it expects to launch a sub-€150 prepay Android device in time for Christmas 2010.

However, in the U.S., Hill said greater emphasis is being put on high-end Android phones, such as flagship devices like the Motorola Droid, and Google's Nexus One.

The reason for the discrepancy between these two regions is likely due to the relative maturity of Europe's smartphone market, said Hill.

"The European smartphone market is slightly more advanced, so segmentation has taken place a little earlier than in the U.S.," he said.

"This has resulted in smartphones being pushed further down the range more quickly."

Источник: Total Telecom

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