Political Unrest and Economic Slowdown Fail to Dampen Thailand's Appetite for Mobile Phones

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Deteriorating economic conditions and political turmoil did little to deter spending on mobile phones as Thailand's mobile phone market reached new heights in 2013Q4.

According to IDC's Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the Thailand mobile phone market in the fourth quarter topped 6.3 million units, which represented 4% growth from the same quarter last year, driven by a 63.6% increase in the number of smartphones shipped.

"Not only did the market ship an unprecedentedly high number of smartphones, but it also marked the first time ever that smartphone shipments were neck and neck with feature phones," says Satianporn Suvansupa, Associate Market Analyst for Client Devices Research at IDC Thailand.

"We saw many plus factors in the mobile phone market last quarter. The excitement surrounding new releases, as well as the Mobile Expo in October helped propel smartphone adoption in Thailand."

The acceleration of smartphone adoption in place of feature phones indicates that smartphones are becoming the new norm, especially as smartphone prices continue to fall. The entry-level segment has been boosted by the growing number of vendors entering the market to challenge the Apple-Samsung duopoly.

"Vendors such as Acer, Huawei and ZTE chose to supply exclusive entry-level models for carriers. This strategy can be very beneficial in the short term for new vendors, but in the long term they may have issues if they become too dependent on carrier support."

Satianporn adds that conversely, vendors who are on more autonomous paths will need to show more commitment and build the confidence of partners and consumers. There have been some success stories, with vendors such as Lenovo and Cherry Mobile proving that the investment is worthwhile.

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Tags: Thailand 

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