x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Samsung smartphones ring up the biggest numbers in the Emirates

Samsung is now the top-selling smartphone brand in the UAE, although analysts warn it "can't afford to sit back" amid fierce competition from the likes of Nokia, BlackBerry and Apple.

Samsung is now the top-selling smartphone brand in the UAE, although analysts warn it "can't afford to sit back" amid fierce competition from the likes of Nokia, BlackBerry and Apple.

The handset maker has overtaken rivals in the ongoing smartphone wars and now claims a 31.1 per cent share of the market in the UAE.

The firm said it had a 109 per cent increase in UAE sales during the first quarter of this year compared with the last three months of last year, citing data from market research firm GfK.

"We have 31.1 per cent of UAE smartphone market share … It's number one," said Ashraf Fawakherji, the general manager of the telecommunications division at Samsung Gulf Electronics.

Mr Fawakherji said Samsung took the number-one spot in the smartphone category in February. He declined to provide specific sales numbers.

He attributed the growth to sales of the Galaxy S II smartphone, as well as the Galaxy Note,a cross between a phone and tablet.

"I'm sure our market share will grow more and more," he said.

Samsung is about to launch its next handset, the Samsung Galaxy S III, which has been touted as a potential rival to Apple's much-anticipated iPhone 5.

Mr Fawakherji said the Galaxy S III would officially be launched in the UAE in June, although it might be in as early as the end of May.

"We are expecting the first stocks to reach us by the month-end," he said.

In the wider Gulf, Samsung had a 120 per cent increase in smartphone sales in the first quarter of this year, the company said.

Matthew Reed, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said Samsung's performance in the UAE was significant for the wider Gulf.

"It's an important bellwether for the whole region," he said.

But despite Samsung's having overtaken its rivals in the UAE, Mr Reed said the smartphone business was still extremely competitive. "In such a fast-changing and uncertain market, they can't afford to sit back," he said.

According to the market research firm IDC, Samsung unseated Nokia as the world's top mobile-phone vendor in the first quarter of this year. It also overtook Apple in the smartphone category, IDC said.

"The halcyon days of rapid growth in the smartphone market have been good to Samsung," said Kevin Restivo, a senior research analyst at IDC, in a statement issued at the beginning of this month.

Globally, Samsung devices now account for 29.1 per cent of smartphone shipments, compared with Apple's 24.2 per cent share, according to IDC.

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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