Huawei eyes market top spot
Huawei aims to be the smartphone leader in Thailand with a 20%-plus market share this year, faster than its earlier target of 2020.
Market leader Samsung's share has declined from 60% a few years ago to 20%, narrowing the gap with Huawei to just 1%, said a source in smartphone distribution.
Chinese phone makers have improved their product quality and time to market and offer a full price range of products, resulting in Samsung's eroded market share.
Wichai Pornpratang, vice-president for IT and mobile communications at Thai Samsung Electronics, moved to the consulting unit because of the loss of market share.
Tossaporn Nisthanon, deputy country director of Huawei Consumer Business Group Thailand, said Thailand is one of the first-tier countries for Huawei in terms of market opportunity, given the sales success of the global best-selling Y series and Mate.
In 2018, Huawei's consumer business grew by 60% as its market share inched closer to that of Samsung's.
"We expect to gain over 20% market share to become the market leader this year," Mr Tossaporn said. "Previously we targeted that for 2020."
The success stems from the price range variety and features that reduce customer pain points.
In 2019, Huawei will increase investment by 50% in its brand shop expansion and marketing, with an aim to grow by 50% in consumer business. Non-smartphone business will account for 10-15% of total revenue.
This year, the overall smartphone market in Thailand is expected to reach 14-15 million units, single-digit growth, with higher demand for upgrading entry-level devices below 3,000 baht to mid- or upper-tier models priced at more than 5,000 baht. Gaming, high-resolution 4K displays and AR/VR features will stimulate demand.
The average selling price this year is 7,000 baht, compared with 6,000 baht last year. High-end smartphones will account for 30% of the total, while mid-range and entry-level models are 40% and 30% respectively.
Last year, the local smartphone market slowed to single-digit growth amid the economic downturn, but Huawei kept growing.
Globally, Huawei ranked fifth in terms of R&D spending last year, with smartphone shipments reaching 200 million units and fetching US$50 billion in revenue.
Chanon Jirayukul, executive vice-president of Thai Oppo Co, said Oppo was the market leader in Thailand in the fourth quarter last year.
From now on, the difference in market share of the No.1 and No.2 makers will be 1-2% and there will no longer be a dominant player, Mr Chanon said.
Narathip Wirunechatapant, chief marketing officer of JayMart Plc, said the local smartphone market in January contracted 10% in terms of units sold.