First Quarter Smartphone Sales in Southeast Asia Reached 18 Million in Units

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In the Southeast Asia region where six of the seven markets are developing markets, smartphone sales continue to intensify each consecutive month. Latest GfK data shows that smartphone take up has passed the halfway mark in the overall handset market which includes basic feature phones, making up 55 percent in March 2014 across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Smartphone sales volume continue to break its own record month after month to reflect its continued staggering growth of 43 percent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2013. In value terms, the popular gadget generated nearly USD4.2 billion within January to March this year-25 percent more compared to a year ago.

"Demand for mobile handsets is stabilizing as indicated by the slight two percent growth in volume sales, but we continue to see consistent deepening of smartphone penetration in this region," highlighted Gerard Tan, Account Director for Digital World at GfK Asia. "More than half the market today is contributed by smartphones and the trend will be sustained as the switchover in emerging markets takes precedence."

The top three growth markets for smartphones according to sales volume in quarter one was Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand which reported 68, 59 and 45 percent increased sales respectively. Indonesia is also the largest market with consumers there buying over 7.3 million units or two-fifth of the region's smartphones.

"The intensified penetration in Thailand and Vietnam was likely driven by the 3G launch last year, which served as a catalyst tipping consumers in these two countries towards the smartphone segment," said Tan. "At the same time, a mix of Chinese and local brands have penetrated into the smartphone market of emerging countries with very attractively priced models to appeal to the low-end segment, managing to convert those consumers who cannot afford the premium phones."

This apparent trend is reflected by the fact that smartphones priced lower than USD100 turned in the strongest growth to become the largest contributing segment in dollar terms, accounting for over 30 percent in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, phablets, or large smartphones with screen size measuring over 5.6 inch have become increasingly sought after. Over 1.1 million units worth a total of USD567 million have been sold, with Malaysia and Indonesia being the biggest markets for this sector.

"Several popular international brands have officially announced the launch of a number of flagship models in the next two quarters of this year, and this could likely be holding consumers back from their purchases in anticipation of the new models," commented Tan. "We can be expecting these events to play a major contributing role in boosting the smartphone market further across this region to turn in yet another stellar performance," he concluded.

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