Smartphone market shrinks 2% in Q1
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Smartphone market shrinks 2% in Q1

People examine the latest mobile phone models at last year's edition of Thailand Mobile Expo. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
People examine the latest mobile phone models at last year's edition of Thailand Mobile Expo. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Thailand's smartphone market contracted 2% in the first quarter this year because of the slow economic recovery, according to a research paper.

The government's digital wallet scheme is expected to stimulate the industry's growth by 3-5% in 2024, according to Counterpoint Technology Market Research's monthly Thailand Smartphone Tracker report.

5G smartphone shipments reached 52% of total smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2024, representing 19% year-on-year growth. This was the first time 5G shipments' share of total smartphone sales surpassed the 50% mark.

Sales of Apple smartphones in Thailand expanded 30% year-on-year in the first quarter as the demand for the iPhone 15 model continued to grow, with the model accounting for 31% of Apple's portfolio in the first quarter of the year, almost double that of its predecessor -- iPhone 14.

Xiaomi sales climbed 30% year-on-year, while its models in the $200-$399 segment were the biggest gainers in the first quarter with a 157% surge year-on-year.

Samsung led the market with an 18% share, despite a 15% year-on-year decline in shipments.

Samsung suffered significant losses, primarily in the low-end segment below $200, due to stiff competition from Chinese brands.

Samsung has been focusing on the mid-range $200-$399 price segment. Shipments rose 56% year-on-year, largely driven by the Galaxy A15 5G model, Galaxy A25 and Galaxy A34 models.

Xiaomi, which opted for a broader portfolio approach, witnessed strong performance across the low-, mid- and high-end price segments. However, the mid-price $200-$399 segment stood out as the key differentiator, as shipments surged in this price range following the launch of the Redmi Note 13 and M6 Pro series.

According to the research, Thailand's smartphone market started showing positive signs in March, with companies lining up to release new devices featuring the latest technology, including product enhancements, AI integration and long-lasting battery solutions.

"We can expect 5G smartphone shipments to rise further as 5G coverage rapidly expands nationwide and consumers increasingly adopt the technology," noted the report.

Kamal Singh, research analyst at Counterpoint, told the Bangkok Post he anticipates progressive growth in the coming quarters driven by increasing 5G adoption supported by mobile phone operators, festive sales and demand for the latest feature-rich devices.

"If the economy improves, we are likely to see a 3-5% year-on-year growth this year," said Mr Singh.

In Thailand, more people are switching to 5G, he noted, adding that he anticipated that 5G smartphones' share of the total market could reach around 60% by the end of this year.

Low-cost smartphones priced below $200 held 52% of the market share in the first quarter.

He said the digital wallet scheme is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2024.

"We took the scheme into account when projecting shipments, and we anticipate the fourth quarter will record the highest shipments in 2024, bringing annual shipments to the higher end of the 3-5% growth range," said Mr Singh.

The primary beneficiaries of the digital handout scheme will be convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, but we may also see a spike in shipments of sub-$250 smartphones, he said.

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