Cheaper iPhone's debut sparks hope for market

Cheaper iPhone's debut sparks hope for market

Chief executive Tim Cook unveiled the latest iPhone at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on Tuesday. (AP photo)
Chief executive Tim Cook unveiled the latest iPhone at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on Tuesday. (AP photo)

Analysts and smartphone distributors are upbeat about the prospects of iPhone sales after the new iPhone 11 was unveiled with more affordable prices.

Revealed by Apple in California on Tuesday, the iPhone 11 starts at US$699, down from a comparable model, the iPhone XR, priced at $749 last year. It has two back cameras, including an ultra-wide-angle lens and the next generation of microchips, the A13.

Apple has lowered the price of the iPhone XR to $599.

The iPhone 11 will be priced at 24,900-30,000 baht, depending on memory space.

The iPhone 11 Pro, which has three rear-facing cameras, will retail for 35,900-48,900 baht, while the bigger-screen iPhone 11 Pro Max will cost in the range of 39,000-52,900 baht.

Weeradej Panichwisai, senior research manager of IDC Thailand, an IT research firm, said lower prices mean Apple can reach more users and attract new replacement buyers.

As iPhone 8 prices dip to around 15,000 baht, the model could be an alternative to Chinese mid-range smartphones, he said.

Mr Weeradej said mid-range smartphones account for 40% of the total handset market. Of that fraction, 30% are in the range of $400-600 and 10% are in the range of $800-1000.

Narathip Wirunechatapant, chief executive of Jaymart Mobile, a mobile phone distributor under SET-listed Jay Mart, said cheaper iPhones should stimulate the replacement market for users who have phones that are two years old or older.

He acknowledged that the smartphone market is still not broadly positive, due to a lack of consumer confidence.

"The company's trade-in programme is a must during this period to drive purchases," Mr Narathip said.

The new iPhones will hit the market on Sept 20, though the date for sales in Thailand has yet to be revealed.

"We expect to see the rise of [iPhone] sales due to more affordable prices," brokerage firm Bualuang Securities said in an e-mailed analysis. Com 7, SPVi and Jay Mart are local players associated with the iPhone sales, the note said.

Country Group Securities said the launch of the new iPhones would be a boon for this year's sales at Com 7, which runs mobile phone and IT stores Studio 7 and Banana.

The firm's net profit is expected to rise 17.5% year-on-year and surge 15% next year, according to the brokerage firm.

In 2019, the domestic smartphone market is expected to drop by 10% from 19 million units sold in 2018, according to IDC. Smartphone sales value is forecast to rise by $60 million to $5.4 billion this year.

IDC sees Chinese brands holding 50% of the local smartphone market in 2019.

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