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Russian mobile market still monopolized by Android smartphones in ‘14

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MOSCOW, Dec 15 (PRIME) -- Smartphones continued to dominate the Russian phone market in 2014 with cheaper models enjoying more popularity among customers. The country’s leading retailers said that it is too early for them to mention any figures for the year, but double-digit growth of smartphones sales is already evident. The majority still opts for Android-run devices that makes the system, developed by Google, occupy more than two thirds of the market.

“It’s still too early to draw any conclusions for the year ahead of the December and pre-New Year sales. This month retailers may expect revenues as high as for the whole quarter. However, some trends are clear. In particular, it’s evident that the market of smartphones will grow in 2014 with double-digit dynamics in natural terms. Sales in monetary terms will also rise as of the end of the year, though less than in natural terms,” Mariya Zaikina, a spokeswoman for multi-channel retailer Svyaznoy, told Russian Connection.

More modest growth in monetary terms is explained by higher demand for low-cost smartphones with a price tag below 5,000 rubles.

“This segment occupied over 45% of sales of smartphones as of the end of September. Cheap smartphones are also popular because they are purchased by people willing to try to use this type of phone. For them, a smartphone is not an ordinary thing, and such customers want to use a new device without paying an extra price. Later, most customers change their cheap models with gadgets of middle and high price ranges,” Zaikina said.

According to M.Video, a leading electronic retail chain, an average price of a smartphone in the country fell to 8,600 rubles in January–June from 10,400 rubles a year earlier.

In January–September, the share of smartphones on the domestic mobile phone market climbed to 60% from 44% a year earlier in natural terms and up to 88% from 80% in monetary terms, according to the retailers’ data.

“Both indicators will be higher at the end of 2014. We do not expect a complete replacement of ordinary phones with smartphones in the next few years. Sales of ordinary phones will decrease, but there are still many people in Russia for whom such phones are more convenient than even the simplest smartphone,” Zaikina from Svyaznoy said.

“The growth of the smartphone market is so high that it propels the whole mobile market to growth.”

GfK, a market research company, said that ordinary phones held a third of the market as of the end of September. “We may say that this share will shrink, and growth will be demonstrated by ‘smart-wireless-always-online’ devices. The number of gadgets equipped with Internet access and sold in Russia has exceeded 200 million units. Smartphones accounted for 44% of them,” GfK’s spokeswoman Natalya Ignatyeva said.

The special feature of the Russian market is that it started evolving slightly later than markets of U.S., Germany and the U.K., which are traditionally quick to react to any technical novelties. “Correspondingly, the markets of these countries do not show high growth any more with the number of smartphones being significantly higher than in our country. The potential of the Russian market is higher, as a third of customers still buy traditional devices with buttons,” Zaikina from Svyaznoy said.

Expansion of smartphones with special features, like phones supporting the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, camera phones and tablet phones, has also become a growth driver and between 100% and 300% in January–September.

Below is a breakdown of producers’ shares in smartphones sales in January–September, as provided by handsets retailer Euroset:

Company

In natural terms, %

In monetary terms, %

 

Jan–Sep, 2013

Jan–Sep, 2014

Jan–Sep, 2013

Jan–Sep, 2014

Samsung

29

20

33

23

Fly

6

11

3

5

Nokia

15

10

10

7

Apple

8

10

20

26

Sony

8

7

9

10

“In the U.S. and European countries, the share of smartphones is higher. It’s explained by a difference in the approach to sales: foreign operators subsidize smartphones, making profits on operator tariffs and options, while in Russia clients choose what they want. This is why the structure of the Russian market better reflects clients’ preferences,” Euroset’s Executive Vice President Viktor Lukanin told Russian Connection.

In 2014, the domestic market was dominated by three operating systems – Android, iOS and Windows – which occupied 95% of the market both in natural and monetary terms. “Android is the most popular of them with four out of five sold smartphones equipped with it. In 2013, Android won about 70% of the market,” Zaikina said.

According to M.Video, the share of the Android system expanded to 83% in January–June from 72% a year earlier. The share of iOS grew 1 percentage point to 9%, while the share of the Windows system contracted 2 percentage points to 4%.

(56.8919 rubles – U.S. $1)

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