Thailand’s smartphone market is expected to decline 20% this year as the pandemic takes a toll on customer sentiment and 5G-enabled smartphone adoption, says Chinese smartphone maker Oppo.
5G-compatible handsets are expected to gain momentum by the first quarter next year, driven by devices priced lower than 10,000 baht, affordable 5G data packages and users’ demand for a rich experience.
Korean smartphone giant Samsung last month rolled out Galaxy S20 FE5G with a base price of 23,900 baht for its flagship S20 model. Apple is expected to unveil a 5G-compatible iPhone 12 this month.
“Smartphones have seen less impact from the pandemic than other sectors,” said Chanon Jirayukul, senior executive vice-president of Oppo Thailand.
“The smartphone market is likely to see a drop of 20% in 2020 from 14 million units in 2019, assuming there is not a second wave of the pandemic nor another lockdown in the country.”
In the first half this year, the market dropped 20%, mainly attributed to the lockdown from March to May, said Mr Chanon.
The market is expected to decline further in the third quarter because of the segment’s low season.
He said in the fourth quarter, mobile operators Advanced Info Service and TrueMove H are likely to move towards 5G standalone (SA) technology, which supports better speed of 5G throughput. The operators started with non-SA tech for a 5G network early this year.
“From the fourth quarter until the first quarter next year, we will see a full transition to 5G,” Mr Chanon said.
Despite the availability of a 5G network and 5G-enabled handsets, consumer sentiment needs to be monitored, he said.
“The pandemic and economic downturn are affecting consumer adoption of 5G devices,” said Mr Chanon. Affordable 5G packages, such as a monthly fee of 499-599 baht with unlimited data usage, need to be rolled out, he said.
Mr Chanon said new 5G-compatible handsets are likely to be ushered in with prices lower than 10,000 baht either by the end of this year or early next year, and this could trigger more demand.
With 5G, consumers will have faster downloads and better quality live-streaming and video content, he said.
To capture the rise of 5G, Oppo on Monday introduced three 5G-enabled smartphone models: Reno4 Z 5G (13,000 baht), Reno4 Pro 5G (25,000 baht) and Find X2 Pro Green Vegan Leather Edition (40,990 baht).
Teerit Paowan, mobile phone market analyst at research firm IDC Thailand, said the country’s smartphone market shrank 11% in the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year.
Throughout this year, the market is expected to drop more than 10% from 18 million units in 2019 in terms of shipment.
“We believe the iPhone 12 with 5G could boost demand in the high-end segment, with more attractive prices supported by the strong baht,” said Mr Teerit. Chinese smartphone makers are focusing on 5G handsets ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 baht, he said.