South African smartphone sales had a prosperous 2018, except for the fourth quarter.
In terms of units sold, South African smartphone sales increased by 7.2 percent in 2018. This is according to figures from the GfK South African smartphone sales report. This equates to an estimated value growth of 13.5 million, 13.2% to just under R35 billion.
Despite an overall increase, unit sales saw an 8.7 percent dip in Q4 compared to the same period in 2017.
“South Africa’s smartphone market has fragmented into low, mid and high-end segments, with operators focusing for much of 2018 on driving volume sales in the entry-level and lower-end of the market and on average revenue per user (ARPU) and value at the high-end,” says Nicolet Pienaar, Product Manager at GfK South Africa.
This is evident in the sale tracking data from GfK South Africa’s Weekly Monitor, reporting that high-end smartphones (R6000 and above) accounted for 9,7% of smartphone unit sales during 2018. This contributed almost 50% in value.
Low-end smartphones (R1499 and below) accounted for 61% of unit sales in 2018 but only contributed 17% to the value of the market.
“However, the dip in the fourth quarter indicates that operators chose to focus on value over unit sales over the Black Friday and Christmas period. Operators reduced or pulled subsidies on entry-level smartphones in the fourth quarter, which caused unit sales to contract,” says Kali Moahloli, Commercial Head for Market Insights at GfK South Africa. “This segment of the market remains price-sensitive rather than feature-driven.”