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Vietnam's Unofficial Smartphone Market on the Rise, Fueled by Demand for Status

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Note -- this news article is more than a year old.

According to IDC's Asia Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, Vietnam topped the list of ASEAN countries with the highest smartphone growth rates in 2014.

Smartphone shipments into Vietnam totaled 11.6 million units last year, reflecting a year-over-year (YoY) growth of 57%. Smartphones also represented 41% of all mobile phones shipped to Vietnam last year and are expected to eclipse feature phones in 2015.

"There are inherent social and geographical characteristics of Vietnam that make the country attractive for unofficial imports of goods. The current proliferation of consumer smart handheld devices is generating opportunities for channel players and importers to take additional legal risks for a number of rewards. In the long run, market maturity and strong enforcement of the laws will help to slow down the import flow and recreate a more equal-playing field for all players," says Thanh Vo, Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices, IDC Vietnam.

IDC's report includes only official shipments from vendors, however, Vietnamese smartphone market sees a large number of unofficial (*) units shipped into the country. This is a result of strong market demand for luxury smartphone brands and the latest technology. This trend has sparked an increase in resellers importing unofficial smartphones from countries like US, Hong Kong (China) or international hub nearing Vietnam such as Singapore, as these countries are selling new phones sooner than Vietnam.

Results from the report shows unofficial smartphone shipments accounted for 24% of total smartphone shipments by value, in 2013. It also shares the current business and demographic developments in the country that make it a hotbed of unofficial smartphone imports.

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Tags: Vietnam