Gartner has released some regional figures for Q1 2013, and it shows that the Middle East and Africa is still a relatively fallow market for Windows Phone, and which hopefully marks it as an area ripe for expansion.
The area is still dominated by feature phones, which accounted for 73.81% of the market. In this field Nokia had a healthy but fading market share of 37%, down from 48% last year, while Samsung was creeping up to 25% from 22% in 2012.
Its on the smartphone section where Nokia (and by extension Windows Phone) is hurting. Nokia only held a 3.7% market share, with around 1.75% of this being Symbian handsets, or around 200,000 Symbian devices.
Windows Phone, presumably the balance plus some other Windows Phone vendors, held less than 2% share, while Samsung and their Android and Bada handsets held around 50%. Around 11.4 million smartphones were sold in Q1 2013, meaning MEA only accounted for around 225,000 of the 6 million Windows Phones sold in Q1 2013, according to Gartner.
Recent IDC numbers had Windows Phone holding 6% shipment share in Europe, or around 1.9 million handsets.
"Smartphone business for Nokia is still not good and feature phones, which were good for Nokia, are also not doing well. Nokia’s Asha phones were getting good competition from other vendors and eating into its market share," said Annette Zimmermann, principal analyst at Gartner Deutschland GmbH.
She said Windows was still not able to ramp up sales and they still need to have more mid-range models like Lumia 720 and Lumia 620.
"Nokia will put all its resources into Windows and don’t expect them to look for an alternative platform. I don’t think they have a plan B."
"Symbian platform is really fading out from the operating system [arena]. We had around 200,000 Symbian units shipped in the first quarter in the region. We don’t see any market for Symbian in the fourth quarter of this year," she concluded.
Nokia’s feature phone business was expected to do better in the second half of the year, but Zimmermann did not volunteer a prediction for Nokia’s Windows Phone business.
In the region Blackberry has around 10% market share while Apple held around 11.4%.
Microsoft has already made its intention to address the African market clear with its 4Afrika initiative with Huawei. The performance of Windows Phones should also be helped by improved localization due to Windows Phone 8 in the middle east, and the presence of cheaper Windows Phones like the Huawei Ascend W1 and Nokia Lumia 520 in Q2 2013.
Hopefully with such a low market share in the region the only way really going forward is up.