Samsung and Apple's rollercoaster year in Europe nearly ended in a draw

Samsung and Apple's rollercoaster year in Europe nearly ended in a draw
While China, India, and the US tend to attract the highest amount of attention from both press and research firms as the world's largest smartphone markets, it doesn't take a seasoned industry pundit to tell that Europe is also a very important battleground for everyone from Samsung and Apple to Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei.

Interestingly, the old continent was the scene of one of the most heated and evenly contested battles for supremacy in 2021, with Samsung ultimately rising to the top of the ranks for both the entire year (completely unsurprisingly) and Q4 (somewhat unexpectedly).

One year, three leaders

Samsung managed to eke out the narrowest possible quarterly win over arch-rival Apple during the October - December 2021 timeframe, holding a 1 percent market share advantage after the Cupertino-based tech giant finished 2020 with an eerily similar 30 to 29 percent victory for Q4.

What's perhaps more important to highlight is that the gold and silver medalists both boosted their numbers compared to the final three months of 2020, unlike bronze medalist Xiaomi, which slipped from 17 to 15 percent share.

Xiaomi, mind you, was a constant thorn in Samsung and Apple's side in 2021, ending the year with a new regional sales record after jumping no less than 50 percent overall from 2020. 

While that was still not enough to truly threaten the number one and two spots on the podium, Xiaomi is definitely getting close to its Western rivals in Europe, narrowing the gaps to Samsung and Apple from 18 and 8 percent to 12 and 6 percent respectively within the space of just 12 months.

Perhaps more impressively, Xiaomi was at one point in 2021 the top smartphone vendor on the old continent... for about 15 minutes, with Samsung and Apple one-upping each other multiple times over the year's duration.

Recommended Stories

Ultimately, Samsung took the European crown with relative ease thanks to the initial success of the Galaxy S21 series, the steady popularity of the mid-range Galaxy A lineup, and the somewhat surprisingly strong demand for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3.

But Apple can be very pleased with its 25 percent year-on-year surge, especially in a year when total smartphone sales only grew by 8 percent, representing a "partial recovery" to lower than pre-pandemic volumes.

The growth champions all hail from China

In a way, Oppo, Realme, and Vivo are the year's biggest winners, improving their European sales tallies by 94, 162, and 207 percent (!!!) respectively for nonetheless modest share of 8, 2, and 1 percent. While all companies were obviously impacted by global component shortages, these three brands (along with Xiaomi) probably offset those inconveniences by splitting Huawei's lost consumer base.

After coming incredibly close to beating Apple back in 2019, with more than 40 million smartphones sold in Europe and a market share of 19 percent, Huawei completely collapsed to eight place overall and under 1 percent share in 2021, losing almost 90 percent of its already declining 2020 business in the region.

It's unclear what smartphone vendors are ranked sixth and seventh right now, but Counterpoint Research is naming Motorola, Nokia, and Honor among the less successful brands to watch in 2022 after important "resurgences" noticed in "recent months."

Motorola in particular is looking like a rising star of both the European and American smartphone landscape thanks primarily to an extensive portfolio of budget-friendly devices with premium designs and respectable specifications.

Speaking of, the not-so-premium-looking but powerful and blazing fast iPhone SE 3 is expected to give Apple a "mid-season boost" in 2022, while Samsung can only "hope" the impending Galaxy S22 family will prove more popular than the S21 and S20 lineups of previous years.

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless