While saturation is expected to cause smartphones volume sales to decline slightly over the forecast period, current value growth is projected to remain robust thanks to rising demand for higher-end and more technologically advanced products. In particular, the first wave of 5G models – some of which have already appeared – should be well received, as French consumers are now using smartphones for everything from web browsing and video calls to gaming, streaming movies and remotely operating smart home networks.
Smartphones in France is increasingly polarised between more affordable products offering decent quality at reasonable prices, and premium-oriented models with cutting-edge technologies and design features. Demand for the latter helped to ensure that high-end brands Samsung, iPhone and Huawei remained the clear leaders in the category in volume share terms in 2019.
Several manufacturers are due to introduce foldable smartphones in late 2019 or in 2020, with the Huawei Mate X and the Samsung Galaxy Fold being among the most highly anticipated models. The Galaxy Fold was originally scheduled to be rolled out globally in April 2019, but Samsung pushed back the launch just before it was due to go on sale after multiple early production units released to tech reviewers suffered serious failures – including broken and bulging displays – after a few days of normal use.
Samsung remained the top player in smartphones in France in volume terms in 2019, followed by Apple and Huawei. After four years of consistently strong gains fuelled by regular innovation, a highly competitive pricing strategy and heavy investment in marketing activities, Huawei saw its volume share decline slightly from 2018.
To counter the threat from Huawei’s P30 series, Apple is focused on enhancing the camera functions of upcoming iPhone models, including versions due to be introduced in late 2019 or 2020. Expected enhancements include a triple photo module that will allow for a more powerful zoom and a wider field of view.
Wiko, which was founded in Marseille but majority-owned by China’s Tinno Mobile, saw its volume share in smartphones decline steadily over the review period as it struggled to fend off the challenge from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo and Honor (Huawei) in lower price segments. Early in 2019, the company announced it was seeking voluntary redundancies as part of a wider cost-cutting drive aimed at strengthening its competitiveness.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Consumer Electronics market research database.