Thailand’s smartphone market bracing for double-digit slump

Photo: Somchai Poomlard/Bangkok Post.

Thailand’s smartphone market is facing a potential double-digit contraction this year, as a result of the economic downturn and a decrease in consumer purchasing power in Q2 and Q3, according to M Vision Plc, an expo organiser, and mobile phone vendors. However, market prospects are predicted to improve in Q4, owing to the introduction of new flagship phones.

Opas Cherdpunt, the CEO of M Vision, who is organising the Thailand Mobile Expo 2023, attributed the market decline to weak economic conditions accompanied by a lack of significant technological changes, such as the adoption of flexible screens.

The four-day expo, which began yesterday, October 26, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, is expected to generate 1 billion baht in transactions as producers promote their new models and provide discounts on existing ones to achieve year-end sales targets, Opas said.

“We see more Chinese brands coming into the market such as the IQOO brand under Vivo, while Oppo and Vivo tightened their budget in the past few years but returned to participate in the event this year.”

Alongside this, the mobile replacement cycle is reportedly extending, from one year to over two years.

The downturn in the Thailand smartphone market is expected to extend by more than 10% from approximately 16 million units, predicts Paradorn Ramaboot, business development manager at HMD Global, the exclusive licensee for Nokia-branded smartphones and accessories. The average sale price has dropped from 10,000 baht last year to 8,000 baht this year, with users now replacing their phones every two to three years, down from 1.5 years.

Thailand Smartphone Market

Despite the overall decline, the local Thailand smartphone market remains large, especially the entry to the mid-priced segment, where consumers display less brand loyalty, said Ramaboot.

“Manufacturers in this segment spend less on marketing, using pricing and smartphone specifications to attract buyers. This segment still has room for newcomers as strong Chinese brands shift to compete at the high-end level.”

Weak purchasing power is impacting consumer sentiment, particularly for smartphones priced below 5,000 baht. However, the Nokia C30 model is reportedly still performing well. Looking to the future said Ramaboot.

“We will select models using a cautious investment model in 2024.”

New flagship smartphone models launched in the fourth quarter in Thailand include Oppo Find N3 Series, Samsung Galaxy S3FE (Fan Edition) and Apple iPhone 15, according to Dusit Sukhumvithaya, CEO of mobile phone vendor JayMart Mobile Plc.

Dusit forecasts that flip smartphone models will increasingly appeal to high-end young customers, whilst foldable mobile phones will remain a niche market.

Dusit also expresses concern over the impact of exchange rates, as a weakening local currency can influence smartphone prices. However, he identifies positive signs for the high-end segment in Q4, including a new round of phone price subsidies from mobile phone operators and improved airtime packages.

Nonetheless, Dusit predicts the overall mobile phone market might contract by 12% this year, reported Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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