Telephone market on a downward trend

Thai Mobile Expo 2023 takes place until Sunday at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.(Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Thailand’s smartphone market is expected to contract by double digits this year due to the unfavorable economic situation and falling consumer purchasing power in the second and third quarters, exhibition organizer and handset sellers said.

The smartphone market is expected to improve in the fourth quarter, driven by the arrival of new flagship phones.

Opas Cherdpunt, chief executive of M Vision Plc, organizer of the Thai Mobile Expo 2023, said the local smartphone market has weakened due to weak economic conditions and the lack of major technological changes, particularly the shift to bendable or flexible screens.

The four-day mobile fair began on Thursday at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center and will last until Sunday.

The organizer expects deals worth 1 billion baht as manufacturers promote their new flagship models and offer discounts on existing models in a bid to meet their sales targets by the end of the year.

“We see more and more Chinese brands entering the market, such as the IQOO brand under the Vivo brand, while Oppo and Vivo have tightened their budgets over the last few years, but this year they are back at the event,” Opas said.

“The replacement cycle is also longer, ranging from one year to more than two years.”

M Vision is also organizing EV Expo Bangkok at the same venue to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles.

Paradorn Ramaboot, business development manager at HMD Global, the exclusive licensee of Nokia-branded smartphones and accessories, said the Thai smartphone segment is expected to continue to decline by more than 10% this year, from about 16 million units.

The average selling price has dropped from 10,000 baht last year to 8,000 baht this year, and users now replace phones every 2 to 3 years, down from 1.5 years, Paradorn said.

The market for smartphones priced below 5,000 baht is still very competitive, he said.

Although the local smartphone market is shrinking, it is still large, especially when entering the mid-price segment where consumers are not very brand-loyal, Paradorn said.

Manufacturers in this segment are spending less on marketing, using smartphone prices and specifications to attract buyers, he said.

There is still room for new players in the segment as strong Chinese brands begin to compete at the high-end level, Paradorn said.

Weak purchasing power is weighing on consumer sentiment, especially for smartphones priced below 5,000 baht, but it said the Nokia C30 continued to perform well.

The company has launched the Nokia C32 equipped with a dual camera at a price of 3,590 baht.

“In 2024, we will choose models using a prudent investment model,” Paradorn said.

Dusit Sukhumvithaya, chief executive of mobile phone supplier JayMart Mobile Plc, said the new flagship smartphone models launched in the fourth quarter in Thailand include the Oppo Find N3 series, Samsung Galaxy S3FE (Fan Edition) and Apple iPhone 15 series.

He predicts that clamshell smartphone models will gain momentum among young, high-end customers, while foldable mobile phones remain a niche market.

Dusit said there are concerns about the impact of exchange rates as a weakening local currency could impact smartphone prices.

He said the fourth quarter shows positive signs, especially in the high-end segment, including a new round of mobile price subsidies from mobile operators and better airtime packages.

The overall cell phone market could shrink by 12% this year, Dusit said.

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