As phone sales ebb, lack of 5G highlighted

As phone sales ebb, lack of 5G highlighted

Analysts also cite economic disruption

Visitors browse the latest mobile phones on display at Thailand Mobile Expo 2019. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Visitors browse the latest mobile phones on display at Thailand Mobile Expo 2019. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Lack of 5G technology and economic turmoil are taking a toll on smartphone sales, even as lifestyle gadgets are gathering sales momentum, according to IT analysts.

"Thais are waiting for 5G-enabled smartphones," said Opas Cherdpan, chief executive of M Vision, organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo, which runs through Sunday at Bitec.

He said smartphones are losing appeal because they lack 5G technology, causing consumers to postpone replacing their handsets.

This might cause the total sales value at the expo to fall below 2.5 billion baht, Mr Opas said.

Smartphone distributors are diversifying into lifestyle gadgets, Internet of Things (IoT), smartwatches, home appliances and wireless headsets and speakers.

Mr Opas said M Vision is aware of the saturation of the smartphone market.

The opposite trend is seen in digital content from over-the-top (OTT) players such as Tidal, Spotify, Joox, Netflix, WeTV, VIU and the Red Bull TV app for sports.

M Vision will organise a digital content expo to cash in on the trend in February 2020 because content providers need to build up their brands, Mr Opas said. The segment will also be a boon to audio accessories such as wireless handsets and speakers.

Narathip Wirunechatapant, chief executive of Jaymart Mobile, said that even though new flagship mobile phones were rolled out in September to attract customers, economic challenges are impacting consumer decision-making.

The company's instalment payment programme for the handsets was extended from 36 months to 40 months to draw customers, he said, adding that the phone insurance scheme was extended from one to three years.

Jaymart will also set aside more booth space at Bitec for IoT devices like smartwatches and air purifiers.

Huawei's Mate 30 series smartphones are scheduled to go on sale in Thailand starting in November, said a source in the smartphone industry who requested anonymity.

The model was pushed back from an October launch because the phones lack access to Google services and popular apps like YouTube and Google Maps, the source said.

The Mate 30 was unveiled in September.

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