Smartphone market see-saws

Smartphone market see-saws

Jaymart expects flat sales figures this year

Political uncertainty is unlikely to affect Thailand's smartphone market because of fierce competition among Chinese producers and Samsung, with technology being updated rapidly and fast replacement cycles.

Mr Dusit says new smartphones will continue to be launched.

The tepid economy and market saturation will result in a relatively flat Thai smartphone market this year, said Jaymart Mobile Co, a major retail smartphone chain. The market is estimated to grow or contract by 1%, with sales of 17 million units worth a total of 170 billion baht, said Jaymart.

Chief executive Dusit Sukhumvithaya said regardless of how the political situation plays out, smartphone makers will continue to launch new products with attractive prices and marketing campaigns to stir up demand from buyers.

In the Thai market, Chinese smartphone brands Huawei, Oppo and Vivo control a combined 50% market share, with the balance going to Samsung, Apple and other brands. Despite having the largest market share, Samsung wants to protect its leading position by offering more unique mobile phones at attractive prices, said Mr Dusit.

Smartphone technology such as full-view display and wide-angle cameras are in high demand from buyers and some premium smartphones offer 36-month instalment plans.

The smartphone market in Thailand started to experience saturation for the first time in 2018, with the market value dropping 4% year-on-year and unit sales plunging by 10% to 17 million units. Low sales were attributed to the sluggish economy, he said.

Mr Dusit said the average sales price of smartphones this year stayed at 10,900 baht a unit, the same as last year.

"This price band is the sweet spot for Chinese smartphone makers, with youngsters buying in this price range and leading to faster replacements, on average at 12 months," he said.

Mr Dusit expects revenue for Jaymart smartphones this year to be flat at 10 billion baht, of which 85% will be retail sales and 15% wholesale.

Last year, the company suffered a contraction of 4-5%, forcing it to shutter more than 10 unprofitable branches located in small cities. Jaymart is focused on outlets located at premium locations or shopping malls that feature phone shops that can generate monthly sales of some 60 million baht altogether.

He said buying a mobile phone online is a growing trend among customers, but Jaymart believes people still prefer to visit physical shops when they want to buy a mobile phone to receive technical advice and promotions. Jaymart also bundles marketing plans with mobile operator Advanced Info Service to attract buyers.

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