SEA smartphone sales up 61% in first three quarters

gfk_logoSoutheast Asia consumers bought 41.5 million smartphones, spending US$10.8 billion in the first three quarters of this year, according to GfK Asia.

Indonesia led the way with sale of 14.8 million smartphones worth more than USS3.33 billion. Thailand and Malaysia were next with 7.2 million and 6.4 million units sold respectively. However, in terms of smartphone sales revenue, the ranking of these two countries are switched with Malaysia garnering US$2.25 billion while Thailand raked in US$1.96 billion in January to September.

“The increasing affordability of smartphones, particularly in the developing markets is helping many consumers in these countries make the switch from their basic feature phones to own their very first smartphone,” said Gerard Tan, Account Director for Digital Technology of GfK Asia. “It is worth highlighting the significant milestone of September being the month whereby sales penetration reached the halfway mark; where one in every two mobile handsets purchased in the region is now a smartphone.”

Compared to the same period last year, the fastest growing market for smartphones were Vietnam and Thailand, both of which reported more than twofold surge, by 156 and 118 percent respectively in volume, and 113 and 114 percent in value.

In terms of operating systems, Android, with its 72 percent market share continues to be increasingly sought after across six of the markets. This platform is most widespread in Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore where the operating system now makes up 91, 83 and 81 percent of total smartphone sales in the respective countries. In Indonesia, the proportion of Android smartphones sales jumped by 23 percent within a year, from 37 to the current 60 percent.

Another smartphone feature that is rising in prevalence is larger screen sizes. Smartphones sporting four-inch and above screens, which used to account for 13 percent of the total sales last year, have more than doubled. In the first nine months of this year, one in four (27 percent) smartphones sold has a screen size of at least four inches.

“The latest trend in the market now is phablets, which is defined as mobile devices with cellular voice phone functionality and a display between 5.6- and 6.99-inch,” said Tan. “Launched only recently around mid-2013, over 460,000 have already been sold and we will likely see greater take-up as more models enter market.”

“The substantial 50 percent of feature phone buyers in Southeast Asia who has yet to convert to using smartphone presents much potential still for manufacturers, and we predict a continued uptrend and exponential growth in the smartphone market in this region,” he added.