A record-high 25 million mobiles and tablets are expected to be sold this year on the back of faster wireless broadband and a tremendous shift in demand to third-generation (3G) smartphones.
Thailand Mobile Expo 2013 opened on Thursday for a long-weekend run at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, featuring promotions galore and a look at the latest mobile phones and tablets, along with sign-ups for 3G services. (Photos by Patipat Janthong)
Industry executives say annual sales have been coming in at 18 million units.
Despite the boom in smartphones, price competition for the devices and mobile data tariff packages will not be strong due to the as-yet limited 3G network coverage.
Pratthana Leelapanang, the senior vice-president for digital products and services at Advanced Info Service (AIS), said smartphones will likely account for half the 25 million mobiles sold this year.
Speaking at Thailand Mobile Expo 2013 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center yesterday, he said most handset sales will be part of a "tremendous shift" in demand to 3G smartphones from 2G mobiles.
Thailand has 75 million mobile subscribers, most of them with two or three mobile numbers for smartphones and tablets.
Mr Pratthana said the overall non-voice market is expected to grow by 25% to 65 billion baht this year.
"We project AIS's non-voice revenue will grow by 25% this year from 26 billion baht last year, accounting for 30% of total revenue," he said, adding that the company's non-voice revenue accounts for half the overall market.
Mr Pratthana said the company's mobile data revenue accounts for 60% of its total non-voice revenue.
The top three mobile data services are internet browsing, video streaming and social networking.
AIS expects to have 15 million mobile internet users this year, up from 12 million last year and 10 million in 2011.
Mr Pratthana added that AIS now has 1.5 million 3G customers after commercial launch of the service early this month.
Subhasiddhi Rakkasikorn, the chief marketing officer at Samart I-Mobile Plc, the handset distributor, said sales of mobiles alone will top 15.5 million devices this year, up by 6.16% from 14.6 million units last year.
In value terms, the local mobile market is expected to increase by 9% to 45 billion baht this year.
Smartphones sales look set to increase by 62.8% to 7 million units from 4.3 million last year. The overall smartphone market value will increase to 32 billion baht from 22 million last year.
Availability of commercial 3G service is stimulating demand for smartphones priced from 5,000 to 10,000 baht, opening up opportunities for local household brands to compete with international brands.
Mr Subhasiddhi said Samart I-Mobile expects to sell 3.2 million mobiles this year, 70% of which will be smartphones.
"We expect our sales revenue will surge by 55% this year from 9 billion baht last year," he said.
Opas Cherdpunt, chief executive of M Vision, organiser of the Thailand Mobile Expo, said price competition in the local market remains low thanks to the continued popularity of smartphones.
Visitors are giving a close look to the new Samsung products at Thailand Mobile Expo 2013, which will run through Sunday at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.