Smartphones to make up half Thai market this year

Smartphones will make up almost half of all phones sold in Thailand this year, thanks to more affordable prices due to intense competition.

Sunthat Laicharoen, senior analyst for telecom at GfK Retail and Technology (Thailand), a global leading research firm, said smartphone sales in Thailand are tipped to grow by 110% this year to 7.5 million units of the total 16 million.

Smartphone sales grew by 115% in 2012, accounting for a 35% share in the total phone market.

"Smartphones in the mid-tier market, priced between 5,000 and 10,000 baht, are likely to be the key growth area thanks to heavy competition," he said.

Entry-level smartphones are priced below 5,000 baht and dominated by Chinese vendors and housebrands, which should make up a 60% market share in the smartphone market this year, compared to 35-40% in 2012, he said.

Mr Sunthat said the average price of entry-level smartphones is expected to drop from 3,500 to 3,000 baht this year, while entry-level feature phones would dip from 1,500 to 700 baht this year.

"The average price of smartphones in Thailand is expected to drop by up to 20% this year, continuing the decline of 12-15% from last year," he said.

Mr Sunthat said he believed BlackBerry and Nokia are set to come back into the market, especially in the medium to high-end segments.

"GfK expects smartphones could make up a 70% share of the total phone market by 2016," he said.

He said the overall mobile phone market is expected to grow by only 5% to 15 million units this year, compared with a 10% growth in 2012, fuelled by feature phones.

Mr Sunthat added that Google's Android would continue to dominate the smartphone market in Thailand this year with a 68% share, followed by Apple's iOS at 18% and the Windows Phone 8 and BB 10 operating system bringing up the rear.

In 2012, Android had a 70% share, followed by iOS (20%), then BlackBerry OS and Windows-based smartphones.

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Writer: Suchit Leesa-nguansuk
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