Computer sales headed for H2 rebound on gaming

Computer sales headed for H2 rebound on gaming

Stronger baht yields cheaper machines

Retro games at Commart Thailand 2019.
Retro games at Commart Thailand 2019.

The strengthening baht and lower prices for gaming computers are expected to revive Thailand's computer market in the second half of the year after a slowdown in the first half, computer experts say.

By the end of 2019, the local computer market is expected to have next-generation gaming notebooks that are light and ultra-thin, weighing less than 1.5 kilogrammes in the premium segment.

Takon Niyomthai, consumer lead at Lenovo Thailand, the local operating unit of the world's biggest computer maker, said a stronger baht will make computer import prices more attractive for buyers, while vendors will have more money for promotions and marketing.

Stock market increases and the formation of a new cabinet could boost confidence in the market, he said.

Gaming notebooks will have new price ranges, with an average selling price of 22,000-28,000 baht, a significant drop from 30,000-40,000 baht previously.

Computer makers and IT retailers are moving into gaming markets that are reviving the industry. Gaming notebooks are expected to account for 40% of the 600,000 overall local notebooks sold in 2019, compared with 30% in 2018 and 10% in 2017.

"Local notebooks are expected to flatten growth in units and see single-digit growth in value," Mr Takon said.

He said that by the end of 2019 or early next year, gaming notebooks will be slimmer, closer in form to the ultra-thin notebook, which is under 1.5kg in weight. This will create a new premium segment of high-performance computing that will serve gaming and video editing and increase work productivity.

"Nice design, curved display, voice command and pen-based touchscreens are also new common features in these computers," Mr Takon said.

Lenovo is the first to offer a pre-installed Microsoft Office Home and Student 2019 Suite for consumers in Thailand in laptops and desktops, including the Yoga series and the Legion gaming sub-brand.

"This will differentiate Lenovo from rivals and add more value for customers," Mr Takon said.

Pornchai Jantarasupasang, media director of ARIP, the organiser of the Commart expo, which runs through Sunday at Bitec, said the company expects sales at the four-day show to total 3 billion baht, similar to the first event in March.

There are a variety of tailor-made gaming desktops from IT retailers and gaming notebooks from international brands. For example, IT City expanded its sub-brand shop ACE to target more gamers and attract youngsters.

"We also see gaming smartphones and accessories as a growing opportunity," Mr Pornchai said.

Game-related products are expected to account for 60% of total revenue at the mid-year event.

Sura Khanittaweekul, chief executive of Com7, said that by the third quarter the company will open at least five new sub-brand shops called E-Quip to focus on computers, mobiles and accessories related to gaming.

He said the average selling price of a gaming desktop and notebook model in 2019 is 30,000-40,000 baht, an increase of 15% from 2018.

Martin Low, managing director of Sennheiser Asia, a unit of the German headset maker, said the company is expanding into the gaming market by introducing its first wireless gaming headset, the GSP 670, in Thailand after previously focusing on audiophiles and wireless headphones in the lifestyle market.

Thailand is a strategic gaming market and the second largest in Southeast Asia (after Singapore), with a 27% contribution in revenue. Thailand ranked 20th worldwide in terms of game revenue in 2018, according to NewZoo research.

There are more than 2.6 million active Steam accounts in Thailand, and this data excludes popular titles not available on that online game marketplace, like League of Legends, CrossFire, Hearthstone, Diablo, Overwatch, World of Warcraft and Fifa.

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