Smartphone sales up sharply in Q1

More smartphones are sold as the coronavirus outbreak continues to hit the country.
More smartphones are sold as the coronavirus outbreak continues to hit the country.

Smartphone shipments to Thailand surged 70.9% year-on-year in the first quarter to 6.35 million units, buoyed by demand for new handsets to receive the government’s financial assistance, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), a tech market research firm.

The shipments grew 34.2% from the previous quarter, when vendors struggled with supply shortages.

There was new demand from users buying new smartphones or upgrading their devices to be able to receive financial assistance from the government’s Covid-19 stimulus packages through the Pao Tang mobile app, the company indicated in its quarterly mobile phone tracker.

According to IDC, sales of affordable 5G handsets also gathered steam.

“The Thai government announced multiple Covid-19 stimulus packages recently, and in order to receive the handouts conveniently through e-wallets, Thai citizens upgraded their smartphones or switched to a smartphone despite the economic slowdown,” said Teerit Paowan, client devices market analyst at IDC Thailand.

“This resulted in strong demand in the low-end smartphone segment.”

South Korean tech giant Samsung gained the biggest market share (about 21%) in Thailand in the first quarter, followed by Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Apple, respectively.

According to IDC, Samsung, which was in fourth place in last year’s final quarter, gained top spot as it rolled out various new models, ranging from the more affordable A series to the high-end flagship Galaxy S21 series.

China’s Xiaomi leaped from fifth to second place in the first quarter, supported by the firm’s efforts to expand its channels with more retail chains. The tech giant added more than 230 stores to its portfolio.

Vivo, which was at the top in the previous quarter, fell to third place. The Chinese smartphone maker chiefly relied on the entry- and mid-level Y-series with the Y12s being a major contributor. However, the mid-level and high-end V-series dropped in the first quarter following high shipments in the previous quarter.

Oppo dropped two positions to fourth as it faced a shortage of various low-end and mid-range models because of logistics problems during the Chinese New Year.

Apple fell from third to fifth, although the new iPhone 12 series still saw strong demand particularly via the telecom operator channel.

Mr Teerit said mobile operators are focusing more on 5G handsets rather than 4G, especially mid-range 5G smartphones.

“This could drive 5G smartphone shipments as well as telco channel share,” he said.

“Android vendors are expected to bring lower-priced 5G smartphones, which will drive the shift from 4G to 5G at a faster pace.”

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