Hype was intense yesterday for the launch of the iPhone 14 lineup in Thailand, with fans flocking to stores, buoyed by Apple's promotion of the country to its first tier for new products.
Local pre-bookings for Apple's iconic smartphones indicated an overwhelming response.
Apple fans mobbed the brand's official stores at CentralWorld and Iconsiam on Friday morning to receive their pre-booked handsets as well as buy new devices.
Other IT retail shops also received a boost from iPhone users.
"Our pre-booking quotas for the iPhone 14 lineup ran out faster than those for the iPhone 13 series," said Paramate Rienjaroensuk, chief executive of SET-listed digital product distributor Copperwired.
"Hundreds of users were waiting in a queue in front of CentralWorld at 8am. Early iPhone adopters who previously flew to Singapore now can buy the handsets in Bangkok."
He said some Apple fans from Vietnam and other Asean nations also bought iPhones here on the first day of its release in Thailand.
Although the prices of the new lineup are relatively higher because of the weaker baht, sales received a boost from discounts offered by mobile operators, point redemption and longer instalment payment periods, said Mr Paramate.
Customers now tend to choose an instalment payment plan of 24-36 months for an iPhone, rather than 10 months, he said.
Mr Paramate said consumers may want to upgrade their phones after two years of pandemic restrictions, keeping many people in their neighbourhoods.
Consumers want handsets with a higher memory storage capacity of 512 gigabytes or 1 terabyte, larger displays and advanced features, including video stabilisation, a high-resolution camera and emergency SOS messages via satellite, he said.
"The iPhone 14 received good feedback, with the full pre-booking quota reached within a few hours, compared with two days for the iPhone 13," said Sura Khanittaweekul, chief executive of IT retailer Com7.
The most popular new item in the lineup is the iPhone 14 Pro Max in a deep purple colour, said Mr Sura.
He said Com7 expects consumers who have used their phones 2.5 years or longer may be willing to replace their devices.
Mr Sura acknowledged there is a supply shortage of iPhone 14s.
With the quicker product rollout, taking place in September rather than October as happened in previous years, Com7 expects its revenue in the third quarter to be higher than last year.
Narathip Wirunechatapant, chief executive of Jaymart Mobile, the IT retail arm of Jay Mart Plc, said Thailand has a lot of iPhone fans who have been waiting for the new model. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will sell well among early adopters, he said.
Users of iPhone versions 10-12 may now be willing to upgrade as well, said Mr Narathip.
The prices for the iPhone 14 lineup have increased by 3,000 baht on average from last year.
"The longer instalment payment plan of up to five years will be useful in speeding up customers' decisions to upgrade their handsets," he said.
The supply of iPhone 14 phones is limited as many other countries are in the first tier for new products.
Global market research firm IDC said Thailand had the highest number of iPhone sales in Asean over the past few years, which was a factor in the country being upgraded to a first-tier rollout market.
Teerit Paowan, a market analyst for IDC, said iPhone had an 11.4% share of Thailand's smartphone market last year and is expected to increase its share this year, as it dominates among smartphones costing more than US$1,000, with more than 80% of the market share.