LONDON: The top two smartphone manufacturers, Apple and Samsung, are increasingly being challenged in Europe as a result of market fragmentation across the region, according to new research.
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, covering the three months to April 2014, showed that major brands are facing increased competition from smaller manufacturers vying for position within this lucrative market.
Lesser-known players and revitalised brands are both now gaining "real traction", according to Dominic Sunnebo, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.
"Established brands like Motorola and Sony are showing resurgence, and newcomers to the European market, such as Huawei and Wiko, are challenging the established names," he said.
Huawei, the Chinese manufacturer, saw its smartphone sales rise by 123% in the big five European markets – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK – in the past year. It now holds an average market share of 3%, rising to 5% in Germany and Spain.
French brand Wiko also enjoyed triple-digit growth across Europe, and now has an 8% share in its home country, with further expansion planned across the continent, including into the UK.
Kantar noted that the British market has yet to experience the high levels of fragmentation witnessed elsewhere in Europe, but the entry of Wiko could potentially change that.
Sunnebo further observed that Europe and the US were starting to follow some common trends from other parts of the world, where there was a separation of tariffs and handsets.
"Consumers are starting to realise the true cost of handsets, and as a result they are shopping around to find cheaper alternatives," he said.
"This shift in behaviour plays directly into the hands of lesser-known brands like Huawei and Wiko, who are able to offer competitive technologies for a fraction of the price."
In China, the world's largest smartphone market, local vendor Xiaomi outsold Samsung for the second time in April 2014.
Xiaomi RedMi, the company's budget handset, was the top-selling smartphone in the country, with 41% of buyers acquiring their first ever smartphone and another 23% switching from Samsung.
Data sourced from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech; additional content by Warc staff