Mobile Expo mulls holding off

Mobile Expo mulls holding off

Mobile Expo 2020 is taking place at Bitec Bangna until this Sunday.
Mobile Expo 2020 is taking place at Bitec Bangna until this Sunday.

The organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo is considering whether to shelve the country's flagship smartphone trade show next year following a slowdown in the handset market because of the pandemic.

Consumers are changing their behaviour, with many retaining their smartphones for more than two years and some seeking budget smartphones for economic concerns.

"We are considering putting off Thailand Mobile Expo until 2022 as economic recovery takes time," said Opas Cherdpunt, managing director for M Vision Plc, the organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo.

Thailand Mobile Expo is held three times a year. The final fair for this year, spanning four days, kicked off on Thursday.

He said the company will hold a mobile festival next year meant for product clearance.

The pandemic has affected new product launches and crippled marketing budgets, taking a toll on tech trade shows.

Many corporations are likely to see a cash crunch as the reprieve on debt repayment will end by this year.

"We will see job losses and business closures lasting until mid-2021," said Mr Opas.

With lower purchasing power, many customers are choosing to hold on to their phones for more than two years, up from the previous practice of 12-18 months.

He said many customers are more interested in budget smartphones.

Apple is likely to usher in a new iPhone with lower prices to attract customers, said Mr Opas, while Android smartphone makers may aim to market phones with higher prices, particularly in the range of 18,000-19,000 baht, to boost their brand reputation.

He said demand for smartphones is likely to be flat or decline, as opposed to notebooks, assembled computer sets and large TV screens, which could see a surge in demand because of remote work and learning.

At this mobile expo, computers and notebooks are likely to contribute to 20-30% of the total sales throughout the event.

"We will see a mixture of IT products at the event rather than smartphones alone," he said. "Huawei is also selling computer notebooks at the event."

An industry source who requested anonymity said Huawei appears ready to focus more on its Matebook than smartphones as it faces a challenge obtaining mobile phone processor components from US suppliers.

"The slowdown of Huawei smartphone sales opens an opportunity for other Chinese smartphone brands to gain more market share," said the source.

David Chan, country manager of Tecno Mobile, a Chinese smartphone maker, said the company sells handsets priced 2,000-7,000 baht and there is demand from the provinces and migrant workers.

The handset market could shrink at least 30% in 2020 from 15 million units last year in the wake of the pandemic, Mr Chan said.

Low-end smartphones are gathering pace this year, with handsets priced around 5,000 baht accounting for over half of total sales, he said.

Handsets priced 3,000 baht have gained 20% market share, up from 10% last year, while those priced 3,000-5,000 baht saw market share rise from 30% to 35%.


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