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Business LATAM Smartphone Market

Smartphone shipments slightly decreased in 2019 due to a further slowing in the replacement rate. Despite the flatlining market, the top three brands all increased their volume in the region. This led to increased brand concentration. The top three brands represented 66.5% of the market – more than 5% more than in 2018.

“Motorola led the growth among top-performing brands, with more than 20% growth in volume, YoY. Increasing participation in markets where Motorola has not traditionally been successful such as Colombia, Mexico and Chile, added to its growth.

During 2019, both the ultra-low (<U$S 75) and premium (>U$S499) price bands losing share, while the mid-price range U$S 100 – U$S250 gained share. The Samsung A-series, Motorola E and G series and Huawei Y and P Lite series, led this mid-tier growth. The three brands were involved in fierce competition in this key price band throughout the year”.

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2019

Parv Sharma, Research Analyst, commented on Q4 2019 performance: “Volume increased slightly during Q4 2019, as consumers responded to promotions over the holiday season, but not all countries had the same results compared to last year”.

Mr. Sharma further added: “During Q4 2019 Xiaomi’s shipments grew 114% compared to the same period in 2018. This is the first time since entering the region that it has entered the top five brands. However, this growth is not without controversy, as the Brazilian Association of Electricity and Electronic Industry has claimed that Xiaomi products are entering Brazil through grey channels. Although this situation is not entirely Xiaomi’s fault, it is its responsibility to try to prevent it. Xiaomi is now taking measures and has announced that it plans to partner with a local manufacturer to start producing smartphones locally.”.

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2019

Key Takeaways

  • ●Throughout 2019, Samsung was the absolute leader in almost all the region’s markets. Its share was more than double its closest competitor.

  • ● However, in Mexico, in Q4 2019, it was trailed closely by Huawei, which had almost fully recovered from the slow down caused by the US trade ban.

  • ● Huawei’s growth was driven by Mexico, Chile and Colombia.

  • ● Huawei is working to enter the Brazilian market. So far it only imports devices. It has already opened two branded stores in Sao Paulo, mainly to raise brand awareness.

  • ● Apple was losing share through most of 2019, but the launch of iPhone 11 restarted an upward share trajectory during Q4 2019.

  • ● ZTE has surpassed its performance before the its trade ban by mainly focusing on Mexico and Colombia. It also increased its ASP as it stopped offering feature phones. Most of its portfolio is low-end 4G smartphones.

  • ● Regional brands were the biggest losers during 2019. Local Kings have been relegated to feature phones and low-end 3G smartphones; they’re unable to compete with Chinese brands in low-end 4G smartphones. Some Local Kings are exploring opportunities in the IoT product category.

  • ● LG volumes continued a slow descent. Argentina and Brazil are the only two markets where LG remains in the top five best-selling brands.
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