When it comes to the most popular handsets in circulation, the Hungarian market largely follows international trends, with Samsung, Huawei and iPhone devices ruling the landscape. However, Huawei’s feud with the United States appears to have dented its popularity in Hungary, the Budapest Business Journal has been told.
“Samsung’s new A-series is popular with customers. After a rather difficult year, Samsung has also invested heavily in the development of lower-end devices, and has been able to gain market share in most segments. The most popular models are the Samsung Galaxy A40, A50, A20e, A70 and A10e,” Dorottya Török, head of device office at Telenor Hungary tells the BBJ.
Apple’s iPhones has maintained its steady popularity in the premium handset segment. The recently-launched iPhone 11 seems to have been well-received by consumers, with Telenor Hungary saying customers “love and buy” the new models.
Hungary reflects international trends in terms of operating systems, too. Apple’s iOS-run devices take up approximately 10% of the global total in general. Some 13% of Telenor Hungary’s clients use iOS, while the rest is Android, the service provider says.
Huawei’s most popular handsets are the P30 Lite, the P Smart 2019 and the Y7 2019. But while the manufacturer’s efforts to increase its market share seemed to be paying off – it has reached significant customer recognition over the past year – its quarrel with the United States appears to have left a dent in its popularity.
“Since mid-2019, its sales have been severely and negatively affected by U.S. sanctions, and many customers have turned away from the brand. In the fourth quarter, Huawei failed to enter the market with its high-end handsets (the Mate series), which worsened its position in the mid-range and premium categories,” Török says, citing Telenor’s own data.
Despite their relatively limited accessibility and marketing operations, Chinese brands are claiming an increasingly bigger slice of the pie in both European and Hungarian markets, Török says.
“Due to their excellent value for money, customers are happy to buy Xiaomi’s equipment,” she adds.
When smartphones first hit the shelves, a portion of handset users seemed reluctant, claiming that they would never opt for a smart device. However, sales reveal clear a preference: 85% of buyers today opt for a smartphone.
“There is a clear difference between service provider sales and the wider free market breakdown: the share of smartphones in the Hungarian telecom market is even higher, at more than 90%, and in the free market around 70%,” Török explains.
With telecommunications providers offering flexible financing programs, higher-end devices are becoming more affordable for the mass market, and the popularity of such tech is increasing.
“Higher-end devices are often used for a longer period of time, which also increases the average life cycle of devices,” says Török. She adds that innovation in the handheld sector is quite slow: new models offer better user friendliness and improved existing features, such as longer battery life, better, and more, cameras and improved chipsets, hence increased speed. For the time being, it is hard to tell what innovation might turn out to be disruptive in the future. One thing is certain though: users are increasingly moving to other tech, beyond phones.
“As the pace of innovation slows, customers are spending more on ecosystem assets, such as wearables, and internet of things (IoT) is increasingly relevant to them,” Török says.
With a population of just under 10 million (the latest figures from the Central Statistical Office, for January 1, 2019, put the total at 9,772,756), Hungary currently boasts 5.3 million smartphone users, which means that 89% of adult internet users are in possession of such a handset, according to a survey published by eNet.
Samsung and Android-based devices are still king, while the mobile internet users reached 4.5 million, up by 1.7 million since 2017.
The survey, which eNet conducted in May and published in September, shows that smartphone users are not only increasing in numbers, but consumer dependence on such devices is also on the rise.
A staggering 71% of Hungarian mobile phone users claim they never switch off their mobile phones, 55% keep it beside them during the night, while a quarter of them admit to taking their device with them to the toilet, too.
Some 85% of participants of the survey use Android devices, iOS devices have an 11% share, and surprisingly Windows Phones still have a thin 3% slice of pie — despite Microsoft having ended support for Windows Phone in July 2017 and stopped active development on Windows 10 Mobile in October of that year, eNet says.
Samsung handhelds rule the market with a share of 34%, Huawei’s take up is at 23% and Apple has 11%, according to the eNet survey. The firm also mentions that U.S. sanctions – threatening the manufacturer with a possible withdrawal of Android support that eventually never happened – earlier this year negatively affected Huawei sales. Nevertheless, tensions sparked the emergence of Huawei’s home-grown Harmony operating system, which is currently used in several smart devices.
The most important factor for consumers buying a handset in Hungary is, unsurprisingly, its price. Some 85% consider the price of the device, 82% consider the features of the device, while 75% consider the operating system used, eNet has found.
The internet research and consulting firm therefore raises the question of whether users would stay with Huawei, should Google decide, for whatever reason, to withdraw Android support. Considering that both Nokia and Blackberry eventually ditched their home-grown operating systems, the question is clearly valid: would Huawei remain as popular as it is today if it had to rely solely on its own Harmony OS?