A lack of new technologies will see Thailand’s smartphone market grow only slightly to between 17.2 million and 17.4 million handsets in 2017, while Chinese brands are expected to double their market share to 30%, especially in the high-end market, according to a forecast by the Kasikorn Research Center.
Unlike the move from 2G to 3G, or even from 3G to 4G, the lack of a compelling need to upgrade will see growth slow to 1.8-2.9% by number or 3-4.5% by value. 2016 saw 8.3% and 5% growth respectively.
According to the report, two factors affecting growth forecasts are a lackluster economic recovery and the fact that telcos had already aggressively campaigned for people to upgrade to their first smartphone throughout 2016 – thus, users who had not bought one by now are unlikely to switch.
Kasikorn said that it talked to both handset vendors and telcos, and that we can expect aggressive 0% installment plans, call packages, discounts and packaging, along with accessories such as loudspeakers as they fight for the saturated market of replacement and second phones.
Chinese brands are expected to take a big slice out of the high end ($425+) market from the South Korean and American incumbents – again, thanks to the slowing economy that will force people to economize. However, it expects sales of top flagship handsets to be relatively steady as Thailand still has a significant segment of users who are very brand-conscious.
Mid-range phones ($110-$425) will make up 50.7% of the market and consists of students and people of average means who are replacing their 2-3 year old handsets.
As for entry-level (sub $110) phones, the researchers said that there is no real future for house brands to focus on this market. In 2016, there was a need to provide house brand phones due to the 2G switch-off, but now that the switch-off is history, there is simply no need or demand in this segment.