Smartphone sales soar in SE Asia

Nearly 120 million smartphones have been sold in the seven key southeast Asian markets in just 12 months.

Sales in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia have soared 44 per cent in volume and 24 per cent in value year on year.

“The big developing countries are the ones fuelling the strong surge in adoption as many outside the big cities are probably just making the switch from their basic feature phone and acquiring their first smartphone,” explained Gerard Tan, account director for Digital World at GfK Asia of his company’s recent findings.

“For instance, the markets of Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have performed extremely well this year, reporting high growth of over 30 per cent in generated revenue and even more in sales volume.”

Based on the latest data from GfK, fastest growing markets in terms of volume turnover in the past 12 months were Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, which reported 70, 56 and 44 per cent increases in demand over the previous period. In value terms, it was Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand which drew in 52, 32 and 31 per cent increased sales by dollar value against last year.

“A key driver fuelling the strong market performance especially in the developing countries is the introduction of more low-end models by new Chinese manufacturers, making smartphones more affordable and taking competition in the marketplace to an even more intense level,” said Tan. “These budget smartphone models have gone down particularly well in the developing markets.”

Indonesia is the only market where homegrown brands have continued to grow in popularity, garnering over 16 per cent share in volume and seven per cent share in value of the local market. Meanwhile, Chinese smartphone brands are more prevalent in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam where their respective proportion of consumer spend have reached more than 10 per cent of the total market

“Although international brands dominate the region’s smartphone market, Chinese brands are gaining significant presence,” said Tan. “Major international brands are losing shares to the Chinese brands in price competition due to the low-cost of the latter which are selling their smartphones, including ‘phablets’, within the US$50 to US$200 range.”


More than 345 Chinese branded smartphone models now exist across the region. While an internationally branded smartphone averages around US$253, a Chinese branded one costs just US$159 – 58 per cent lower.

“Competition in the market will further intensify, as Chinese manufacturers are stepping up their activities in more countries, notably Singapore, Philippines and Thailand,” commented Tan. “However, with the much anticipated launch of new models by several international brands, we can expected to witness some fierce competition in this this region; with the eventually winners who will gain from the price wars being the consumers.”

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