New iPhone 13 series to propel sales
Earlier launch encourages more people to switch to 5G-enabled handsets
Mobile and IT retail operators have expressed confidence the new iPhone 13 series will encourage more people to switch their phones to 5G handsets, propelling smartphone sales in the final quarter this year, as the new line-up went on sale yesterday.
Mobile carriers launched major discount campaigns to draw new users from rivals, offering low upfront payments for postpaid subscribers, with monthly instalments stretching to 60 months.
The first day of iPhone 13 sales in Thailand comes much earlier than previous release dates, which were in late October or November.
"We believe the iPhone 13 line-up will help people upgrade from 4G handsets, similar to last year when many switched to the 5G-enabled iPhone 12," said Pratthana Leelapanang, chief consumer business officer of Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand's largest mobile operator by subscriber base.
Apple customers are heavy data users, while the number of iPhone customers using the AIS mobile network continues to increase, he said.
"We truly believe customers will get the best benefits from the new iPhones using the 5G network," Mr Pratthana said.
Apple stores at Iconsiam and CentralWorld yesterday opened at 8am, two hours earlier than normal, to welcome iPhone 13 buyers.
However, there were no long queues as in previous years because of the pandemic, with stores forced to limit the number of entrants.
Sura Khanittaweekul, chief executive of SET-listed Com7, an IT retail chain, said the earlier launch date of the new iPhone series in Thailand is likely to help push the company's operating results to a record high in the fourth quarter.
"This is the best year ever, thanks to the upcoming high season for festivities, new product launches and the government's stimulus programmes," he said.
The early launch of the iPhone 13 line-up gives the company more time to sell the products, said Mr Sura.
The number of pre-orders for the iPhone 13 series the firm received exceeds those for the iPhone 12 series last year.
Buyers of iPhones are normally mid-level to high spenders that are less affected by the economic slowdown, he said.
In 2021, sales of 5G-enabled smartphones are expected to account for 35% of the total smartphone market of 15 million units, said Mr Sura.
Teerit Paowan, client devices market analyst at IDC Thailand, an IT market research firm, said iPhones always receive a warm welcome from Thai consumers, even with prices for an iPhone 13 2,000-3,000 baht higher than the iPhone 12 series last year.
Sales of iPhones are normally in the top five for smartphones in Thailand and Apple's strong performance in the fourth quarter is attributed to the launch of new products, he said.
According to IDC, 5G smartphone sales are likely to account for 20% of the total market this year, up from 7% a year before. The proportion is expected to reach 38% next year.
Glen Cardoza, senior analyst for research firm Counterpoint, said the iPhone 13 series release will have a positive effect on the consumer base in terms of 5G subscriptions.
Many users may be waiting for this launch to upgrade their smartphones, he said.
The new line-up is expected to drive the sales volume of iPhones in Thailand in the fourth quarter, said Mr Cardoza.