Phone buyers in the Middle East and Africa are increasingly turning to the affordable end of the smartphone market, as a growing “digital adult’ customer base focuses on buying devices that feature the technology they actually want to use, rather than the latest branded handset.
While overall smartphone sales climbed 83% in the region last year, according to IDC, the proportion of devices priced under $100 rocketed from just 5% in 2013, to one in five, or 20%, of all smartphones sold in 2014.
The digital adults’ eagerness to embrace new technology is pushing the region’s smartphone market toward shorter product lifecycles and to adapt new solutions, notably the LTE networking standard, which is fast gaining ground in the region, and 4G technology. Middle East LTE subscriptions jumped 174% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2014, according to Ovum, as more operators add LTE networks.
“We are seeing a clear shift in the smartphone market toward the affordable segment, as customers are deciding high-end devices may not be best suited to their needs,” said Nitin Sood, managing director at Fly MEA. “Driving this market is the emergence of the digital adult – users who are tech-savvy, want to get the most out of their smartphones and are looking for the best specifications, but are brand agnostic about the devices they choose.”