Smartphone and Apps stats across the Middle East

By on July 13, 2011
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Find out what kinds of apps do Middle East Smartphone owners buy and use.

The lack of data available for many things in the Middle East is purely because finding and compiling numbers has always been a challenge. So it’s always immensely helpful for organizations like ours when someone does a comprehensive survey on technology. That is precisely what AppsArabia did- they commissioned a research into the Smartphone market that was conducted by Real Opinions and sponsored by RIM.

The results of this research were announced at an event held yesterday and a lot of data was sent our way. We thought we’d pick some interesting findings from their data and present to you but if you prefer, you can look at the entire data on their website. Before we get started, lets point out some information on the respondents- data was collected online from 2,950 respondents across the GCC and Levant areas out of which 73% of the respondents were male. In this article, we are mainly looking at results from the GCC.


41% of users in the GCC have more than one Smartphone. This is the highest percentage in the world and is not surprising as you see many people in the region carry more than one device. The most popular Smartphone was a Nokia with 44%, followed by BlackBerry at 34% and iPhone at 32%. Samsung and HTC were also sizable players with 14% and 7% market share.

What is extremely striking is that over 70% of the total users would like to upgrade their Smartphone within 12 months although sadly there was no research conducted on what Smartphone/manufacturer they would select for their next device. This would have helped us gauge brand loyalty.

When it came to Apps usage, Nokia continued the lead with 31% followed by Apple at 28% and BlackBerry at 23%. Considering that the Nokia OVI store and the Apple App Store have seen around for a much longer period than the BlackBerry App World, I would think that these stats would change considerably in the next few months. Also, English is still very much the primary language for using Apps with 62% people preferring it over Arabic.

The most popular type of Apps used in the GCC are “Communication” apps that consist of apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. This is followed by Photography, Social Networking, Maps & Navigation and Music apps. Surprisingly, games and news apps are not as popular in the GCC as they are in the Western world. Out of the overall sample, over 51% use apps all day long- quite observable if you stop and look at the number of people using BBM, Facebook or Twitter on their Smartphones.

Interestingly, over 50% of the users recommend apps to friends and over 38% search for new apps using their Smartphones. Blogs/Websites like ours are used by 34% of users to find out about new apps, however, only 14% of the users take our recommendation when evaluating a new app. Most people would either download and evaluate apps themselves or get it if recommended by a friend.

The research closed with some data collected on tablets and amazingly 45% of the Smartphone users already have a tablet while 40% plan on getting one. Sure enough, the iPad is the dominant device in tablets making up for 58% of the market with the Samsung Galaxy Tab coming in at second with 18%.

The number one feature users look for in their tablet is Internet connection and amongst iPad owners, more than double have the 3G version versus the WiFi only version. This tells you that people prefer to be online and connected not just at their home or offices but wherever they go. Hopefully telcos in the region will see this and lower data usage costs.


Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

  • Butti Bushlaibi

    I feel the stats were rigged, especially if its sponsored by RIM :S

  • Butti Bushlaibi

    I feel the stats were rigged, especially if its sponsored by RIM :S

  • Mars Mlodzinski

    Are there any new studies regarding smart phone penetration and usage?

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