5G, promotions push smartphone sales
The roll-out of mid-range 5G-enabled smartphones and attractive promotions for new flagship handsets, including the Samsung Note 20 and the upcoming iPhone 12, are likely to stoke demand in the local smartphone market in the second half, say industry pundits.
Aggressive competition makes it harder to predict who will be in the pole position in the market, and it could change quarter by quarter in terms of market share, tech research firm IDC Thailand said.
"It remains to be seen which company will be the market leader because of the close gap in the market share," said Teerit Paowan, an analyst at IDC Thailand. "Samsung has fallen from the top position in Thailand since the fourth quarter of last year."
In the second quarter this year, the smartphone market performed better than expected because of promotional campaigns by phone makers and online sales that could help offset those in retail shops that were closed as part of lockdowns.
"We need to revise again the overall market outlook this year. It is unlikely to be a double-digit contraction as earlier forecast," said Mr Teerit.
The roll-out of mid-range 5G-compatible smartphones priced 10,000-12,000 baht is likely to attract buyers seeking replacements, while flagship handsets also have the potential to stoke market demand, he said.
Samsung on Wednesday unveiled flagship smartphone Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, integrated with Microsoft apps and Xbox game support. Note 20, said Mr Teerit, is likely to attract customers more than Note 20 Ultra because of the lower price.
Samsung also introduced the Tab S7 tablet, Watch 3 smartwatch and "Buds Live" earbud, as well as the Samsung Z Fold 2 handset.
The launch of the iPhone 12 could be deferred to October, but this model is likely to spark new demand in the fourth quarter, he said.
According to Mr Teerit, Samsung's fourth-quarter market share in Thailand last year dropped from 26% to 18% quarterly, making it fall from the top position to the third. The iPhone 11 recorded strong sales as it was priced competitively, he said.
Samsung climbed back to No.2 in the first quarter this year thanks to the launch of the Galaxy S20 and its A series, which performed well. During that period, Oppo became the market leader.
"The second-quarter rank has yet to be announced, but Samsung is unlikely to retain market leadership," Mr Teerit said. "Vivo was doing well, while Huawei managed to push up its market share."
Narathip Wirunechatapant, chief executive of Jay Mart, said the launch of the Note 20 series and other gadgets help attract consumers, though the smartphone market is expected to be flat. Major smartphone vendors are gearing up for 5G-enabled handsets. The price gap between the 4G smartphones and 5G models is about 4,000 baht, but should narrow in the fourth quarter, he said.