Smartphone sales slump across Europe, but buyers are eyeing premium models

Europeans are getting more attached to their expensive smartphones – apparently they’re buying more expensive models, but fewer of them. According to research from GfK, smartphone demand across Europe fell by 7% year-on-year in the third quarter. Sales in the UK and France tumbled by even more, registering an 8% decline.

However, despite the lower sales, phone vendors are not losing out; turnover actually increased by 4% thanks to an 11% rise in average selling price. Consequently, GfK has raised its 2017 smartphone revenue outlook for the region to a 6% increase year-on-year.

The main reason for this boost has been a shift to the top end of the market. The research company found that one out of eight smartphones sold in the third quarter was priced above $900 (around £680) – a year ago, only one in 16 was.

Global increase

Globally, the picture was even brighter: worldwide sales were up 3% in the last quarter, reaching 367 million units, the highest third-quarter ever, according to GfK. The main impetus for this rise was demand in Latin America, where sales rose by a healthy 11%, along with Central and Eastern Europe, which witnessed a rise of 9%. The global average selling price (ASP) was also on the way up, rising by a record 7% year-on-year.

Arndt Polifke, global director of telecom research at GfK, said: “Although unit sales may be down in some regions, the increase in ASP reveals the fantastic opportunity to grow the value of the smartphone market. This is welcome news for manufacturers, particularly in regions such as Western Europe where saturation has resulted in declining sales volumes year-on-year.”

Polifke added that the vendors’ emphasis on high-end models was clearly paying dividends, with clear indicators that users would pay more for better features. “Premium features are increasing in importance to consumers, so we expect to see more emphasis on water and dust protection, battery power and memory, high resolution sound, camera and video capabilities, bezel-less design and even biometric sensors on new launches,” he noted.