IDC: in Europe, smartphones post lowest gains in nearly a decade

iPhone 5 (two-up, front, back, flat)

Things are not looking good for smartphones over in Europe. Although first-quarter smartphone shipments rose twelve percent in Western Europe, the gains were the lowest since 2004, according to research firm IDC Tuesday. The sluggish increase, coupled with a 31 percent decrease in shipments of feature phones, pulled overall mobile phone ships down 4.2 percent annually across Western Europe.

Samsung held on to its overall lead in mobile phone shipments while increasing its lead over Apple in smartphone shipments. Despite a decline in shipments, Apple rose to second place overall in Western Europe, holding on to its No. 2 spot in smartphone shipments, the researcher announced…

Mobile phone shipments rose to 43.6 million units for Western Europe during the first quarter, according to IDC. Smartphone shipments rose to 31.6 million units, while feature phone shipments fell to just twelve million, according to IDC’s European Mobile Phone Tracker.

Samsung’s share of the mobile phone market brushed up against the halfway mark, shipments reaching 19.9 million for 46 percent. Meanwhile, Apple took second, although iPhone shipments slipped by 800,000 units.

In the race to control smartphone shipments, Samsung saw its lead in Western Europe grow stronger, rising 3.4 million units to 14.3 million handsets, enough for a forty percent share. Apple remains in second place with 25 percent of smartphone shipments during the first quarter.

IDC (Europe smartphones, 201305, chart 001)

As for the battle among device software, Google’s Android increased its market share to 69 percent, up from 55 percent a year ago. Apple’s iOS slipped to twenty percent, down from 25 percent while Windows Phone grabbed third place as its market share increased to six percent, up from four percent, IDC said.

According to IDC, a second wave of smartphone adoption has begun in Western Europe. That wave will be led by consumers that don’t need a smartphone.

IDC (Europe smartphones, 201305, chart 002)

“These new users are looking to replace their current feature phones with another feature phone, as smartphones are fancy gadgets they don’t fee the need to have,” said IDC European mobile devices research director Francisco Jeronimo.

The comments appear to mesh with those of an earlier forecast by Garter.

The IDC analyst said those consumers could easily purchase a low-cost smartphone priced near a new feature phone.

“With a small push from sales people, the sale is almost guaranteed. But they will buy one of the cheapest smartphones as they still see no value for the money,” adds Jeronimo.

Even more evidence that low-cost, basic smartphones will fuel future sales.