Sharp, the Japanese electric appliance maker, is tapping the Thai smartphone market as part of a push to expand its handset sales throughout Asia.
"We selected Thailand as our fourth country for expanding overseas, after Hong Kong, Russia and Taiwan, thanks to the availability of international-standard third-generation (3G) service in the kingdom," said Scott Cheng, president of Commtiva Technology Taiwan.
Commtiva helps Sharp develop and promote products in overseas markets.
Mr Cheng said Thailand has the most 3G-enabled mobile phones in Southeast Asia. If Sharp achieves success here with smartphones, the company will consider bringing its e-book and tablet products to the country.
Sharp is introducing the SH930W, which it calls the world's first five-inch, full-HD Aquos smartphone. The phone is set to become Sharp's flagship product this year, using display technology found in TV sets.
"I believe the five-inch HD display will become the de facto feature in the premium smartphone segment this year, compared to the four-inch HD feature last year," said Mr Cheng.
Somchai Sittichaisrichart, managing director of SIS Distribution (Thailand), said SIS has been named the exclusive distributor of Sharp smartphones.
SIS is in talks with some Chinese smartphone makers to expand the firm's portfolio into entry-level devices priced below 5,000 baht.
"The entry- and medium-level segments will be key growth areas this year, accounting for half the total market," said Mr Somchai.
SIS expects overall smartphones in Thailand to reach 6 million units this year, up from 5 million last year.
Low-priced tablets are another likely growth area, due to the government's One Tablet Per Child scheme.
"We aim to return to profitability this year, helped by these high-growth product areas," said Mr Somchai.
SIS reported a loss of 255 million baht in the third quarter of 2012, citing an oversupply of inventory and shrinking consumer demand for computers.
About the author
- Writer: Suchit Leesa-nguansuk
Position: Senior Reporter