State project delays hit computer sales
Rising political uncertainty is expected to affect Thailand's computer market this year, causing it to contract by single digits, down to 2.2 million units in sales, because of a delay in state projects, say leading IT analysts.
Consumers will still drive growth, especially for gaming computers and ultra-slim notebooks.
"If the new government postpones bidding on projects, the local personal computer [PC] market comprising desktops and notebooks will contract 1% in 2019 as public agencies are reluctant to purchase new computers. We will start to see an impact in the third quarter," said Peerapat Samarnmit, market analyst for IDC Thailand, a global technology research firm.
The overall PC market in 2018 recorded sales of 2.3 million units, but this year the projection is for 2.2 million units, of which 68% will come from consumers and 32% corporations and the government, said IDC Thailand.
The only growth segment is consumer spending as there is strong demand for tailor-made gaming desktops (build-your-own PCs) and gaming notebooks. PC makers offer more affordable gaming devices that attract a wider audience, gaining from the popularity of e-sports.
"Last year, there was a shortage of Intel processors that caused the overall PC market to slow down, even as demand was steady. This situation is expected to improve this year," said Mr Peerapat.
Notebook sales are projected to rebound back to growth this year of 1.1%, with 960,000 units sold, after contracting for a few years because of market saturation and the rise of the tablet.
Takon Niyomthai, business unit manager of Lenovo Group, a local operating unit of the world's largest PC maker, said consumer computers will grow by steady single digits of 1-1.5% in 2019. More affordable prices and attractive promotions from vendors are driving users to replace their old PCs with new ones every 2-3 years, up from 3-4 years previously.
Gaming notebooks are gaining momentum, with a 10% share of the total market in 2018 to a 35% share, some 600,000 to 700,00 units, of the notebook market, according to GfK research.
"Notebook gaming is more affordable now, with units priced from 25,000 baht, down from over 30,000-40,000 baht, while desktop gaming units for hardcore gamers still range from 60,000-100,000 baht," Mr Takon said.
He said ultra-slim notebooks also grew in popularity. Such notebooks' lightweight, slim design, touchscreen and eight-hour battery life appeal to tablet users. Ultra-slim notebooks also have a reasonable entry price starting at around 10,000 baht.