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Smartphones boom in Thai market

Caroline Ng | June 26, 2013
Smartphones drive almost half of all handset sales, gaining traction since the start of last year.

Smartphone sales in Thailand has more than doubled in the last 12 months, cashing in over US$800 million in the same period, according to the latest Gfk findings in the first quarter of this year.

More than two in five (42 percent) of overall volume sales now come from smartphones, compared to only one in five in the year before.

Wichit Purepong, managing director for Gfk in Thailand, said smartphones have bolstered the growth of demand, particularly since the middle of last year, for handsets in the country.

"This growth has been purely contributed by smartphones, which registered the greatest spike of 24 percent in volume sales in the first quarter of this year over the quarter before," he said.

Basic feature phones, however, are losing its appeal to tech-savvy consumers with revenue plunging by around 38 percent compared to the year before as sales volume dropped by over 11 percent in the same period.

The muted demand has shrunk the market share of basic phones, to account for just over 15 percent of the total handset market, a marked drop from 40 percent previously.

In what could prove to be a crucial shift in reversing the trend of basic phones, the findings found a meteoric rise in smartphones adoption in the northeast region, the least affluent area in the country.

"Although the northeast region is the largest in terms of population and size, it is the least developed and has the lowest average income in Thailand," Purepong added.

The region of 17 provinces combined has witnessed smartphone sales more than quadrupled (344 percent) compared to the year before. A figure that has far surpassed the momentum in the central (17 percent) and western (11 percent) regions of the country.

The availability of cheaper smartphones has driven smartphone demand in the region. A smartphone typically costs US$300 in Bangkok but it only costs around US$230 in the northeast region.

Sitting on top of such a buoyant outlook, Purepong expects smartphone adoption "to rake in at least 70 percent growth in value to continue to drive the handset market in the next year." 


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