Smartphone boom in Southeast Asia

Rapid growth in Southeast Asia’s smartphone market continues with a total of nearly 7.7 million units worth almost US$2.4 billion being snapped up in the first three months of 2012, says research company GfK.

GfK Asia said Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, and Cambodia registered spikes in demand for smartphones between 40 and 400 per cent than during the same period last year.

The smartphone revolution is in full swing but not all consumers are fully converted yet as one in three mobile phones sold last quarter was still a feature phone, although figures have been gradually dwindling over the last few years.

Smartphones’s share has correspondingly been rising and today accounts for more than 66 per cent of the overall sales, up from 50 per cent in the first quarter of last year. 

“The largest smartphone market in this region – expectedly – is Indonesia which has a smartphone penetration rate of 62 per cent and enjoyed sales exceeding US$1.4 billion last quarter,” said Gerard Tan, account director for digital technology at GfK Asia.

“Meanwhile, the markets with deepest smartphone penetration are Malaysia and Singapore where levels have already reached a high of 88 per cent, translating to almost nine out of every 10 in the general population using a smartphone.”

The latest GfK findings have uncovered some apparent consumer trends in smartphones across the region, one of which is the increasing preference towards touch screen only devices, whose take up rate today is 71 per cent of smartphones – a considerable jump from last year’s 47 per cent.

Another interesting development is the brisk sales enjoyed by the increasing number of smartphones which are equipped with advanced camera features. GfK reports that over 35 per cent of all smartphones sold in Southeast Asia in the first three months of the year were equipped with a camera of eight megapixel or more, compared to just 12 per cent a year ago. This mounting trend is especially apparent in Cambodia (70 per cent), Singapore (67 per cent) and Malaysia (58 per cent).

“The relatively stable prices of smartphones averaging around US$309 in the region will continue to drive the industry’s strong growth momentum,” said Tan.

“In developing Southeast Asia, where smartphone penetration is still nowhere near saturation levels, we can be sure that the current sales spurt will carry on for at least the next few years. With much of the populace still not owning a mobile phone, there is no better place for global mobile phone brands to focus their sales and marketing efforts.”



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