Smartphone Shipments Account For Over Half of Thailand's Phone Market for the First Time

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With falling price and continuous push from the telecom carriers, smartphone shipments accounted for more than half of Thailand's mobile phone market for the first time even though the economy shrank 0.6% year on year (YoY) amidst the political conundrums that led to major roads in Bangkok being blocked for weeks.

This places Thailand as the third country in Southeast Asia after Singapore and Malaysia to ship more smartphones than feature phones.

According to IDC's Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, the Thailand mobile phone market began the year with 5.7 million units, which represent a 7% year-on-year decline. Dragging down the total market was feature phones, which faced a 27% YoY decline. Meanwhile, smartphone showed a healthy growth of 27% YoY.

"These mirroring changes are a reminder of the way affordable smartphones have been successfully replacing feature phones in Thailand. Perhaps the most potent force now is the emergence of smartphones that cost less than THB2500 (US$80), a category which did not exist in Thailand a year ago, but now account for almost 20% of the total smartphone market," says Satianporn Suvansupa, Associate Market Analyst for Client Devices Research at IDC Thailand.

"The transition has been driven largely by the carriers, which have been relentlessly persuading customers to adopt smartphones after the 3G licenses were granted. These trends are in line with IDC's prediction that 2014 will be the first year smartphone outsells feature phone in Thailand."

The relatively well-off performance of smartphone shipment also indicates its steady imperviousness to the sliding economy and political difficulties that have put a severe strain on other client devices such as PC and tablet. This is due to increased importance of constant communications, and also smartphone's ability to partially serve other devices' functions.

"Phone usage has become such an integrated part of our lives now to the point that it'll be difficult mentally and practically to delay our phone purchase once the current one is lost or broken down. As such, consumers may at worse respond to their drop in income by choosing a reasonably priced smartphone instead of stopping the purchase altogether."

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Tags: Thailand 

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