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European smartphone market – iPhone hits highest ever share

Apple enjoyed 25% growth in the European smartphone market last year, according to a new report today – significantly outpacing the overall 8% rise across all brands.

It saw the iPhone achieve its highest ever market share in Europe …

Counterpoint Research said that it was a mixed year.

2021 was another a rollercoaster year for the European smartphone market. Promising early signs suggested that the market was recovering from a difficult 2020, during which the COVID-19 pandemic hit the region hard causing both supply- and demand-side issues. However, COVID-19 impacts continued into 2021, and then Europe faced a new challenge: the global component shortage hit the region towards the middle of the year. So, while the total European smartphone market managed to grow by 8% in 2021, this was only a partial recovery.

Counterpoint Research’s Associate Director, Jan Stryjak said, “It is great to see the European smartphone market growing in 2021, but that only tells half the story; COVID-19 impacts resulted in a 14% annual drop in sales in 2020, which means the market is still well-below pre-pandemic levels.”

It was an interesting year for competition between the brands.

2021 saw the most intense competition yet. Leadership of the European smartphone market changed hands four times throughout the year, while some brands enjoyed their best year for sales in Europe ever.

Riding the wave of the launch of its first 5G iPhone, Apple started the year on a high with a market leading 34% share. In February, Samsung launched its Galaxy S21 series which, at least initially, sold well, helping Samsung’s sales grow by 24% compared to January and pushing it to the top spot in February 2021. Samsung then suffered significant supply issues starting in May due to COVID-19 related factory shutdowns in Vietnam, which opened the door for Xiaomi to become number one in Europe for the first time, in June 2021 (helped by good growth in Russia, Spain and Italy).

Xiaomi’s leadership was short-lived, though, as Samsung retook the lead in July 2021 off the back of strong A series sales. Samsung then extended its lead with the launch of its popular Galaxy Z foldable smartphones, while Xiaomi was hit badly by component shortages. Samsung continued to lead the market for the next few months, despite the best efforts of Apple, whose iPhone 13 launch stumbled in October 2021.

However, a traditionally strong end of the year finally gave Apple the lead in November 2021, a lead which Apple extended to reach its highest ever share in Europe in December 2021.

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