Chinese smartphones dominate Southeast Asia: GfK

Low-cost, Chinese-branded smartphones are dominating the Southeast Asia market and driving a spike in smartphone sales.

Smartphone sales in the Southeast Asia market have reached more than $16.4 billion in the last 12 months, the latest GfK findings have revealed.

Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia — considered as the seven key markets in the region — saw total sales in the last 12 months from September 2013 to August 2014 reach a high of almost 120 million units. This reflected a spike in smartphone sales by 44 percent in volume and 24 percent in value compared to the same period a year ago.

The fastest-growing markets in terms of volume turnover were Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, which each reported 70, 56, and 44 percent increase in demand, respectively. In value terms, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand had increases of 52, 32 and 31 percent compared to last year, respectively.

"The big developing countries are the ones fuelling the strong surge in adoption, as many outside the big cities are probably just making the switch from their basic feature phone and acquiring their first smartphone," said Gerard Tan, GfK Asia account director for digital world.

"For instance, the markets of Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand have performed extremely well this year, reporting high growth of over 30 percent in generated revenue and even more in sales volume."

The GfK data also showed that Chinese brands continue to penetrate Southeast Asia, with more than 345 different Chinese-branded smartphones available for purchase across the region. Chinese smartphone brands are more prevalent in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, where their respective proportions of consumer spend have reached more than 10 percent of the total market.

Fuelling the increased levels of Chinese smartphone penetration is lower cost, with each averaging around $159; less than half the price of an internationally branded smartphone, which average $253.

Tan said that low-end models by new Chinese manufacturers are making smartphones more affordable, therefore intensifying competition levels in the region.

"Competition in the market will further intensify, as Chinese manufacturers are stepping up their activities in more countries, notably Singapore, Philippines, and Thailand," he said.

"However, with the much anticipated launch of new models by several international brands, we can expect to witness some fierce competition in this this region; with the eventual winners who will gain from the price wars being the consumers."

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