SEA mobile phone sales rise by 8 percent

Smartphones continue to drive the market, contributing 42.2 million units to the overall 108 million units sold in the Southeast Asian region in the 12 months ended March 2013.

Southeast Asian consumers are increasingly moving away from feature phones and on to smartphones, which is helping spur sales growth in this region.

According to findings from GfK released Friday, the region's overall mobile phone market expanded in the 12 months between April 2012 and March 2013 by 8 percent in unit sales to reach over 108 million units. This growth was attributed to smartphones making up for declining interest in basic feature phones, as consumers spent almost US$3.4 billion more on the additional 16 million units from the previous 12-month period, it notd.

Smartphone sales volume reached 42.2 million units, and the total worth of the this market across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia, rose to over US$11 billion, the study added.

Gerard Tan, account director for Digital World at GfK Asia, said in the report: "Southeast Asian consumers, especially those in the developing countries are fueling the exponential growth of smartphones as they switch over from their basic feature phone to the latest smartphone technology in their local markets. In the past one year, 1 in every 3 mobile phones sold in the region was a smartphone."

Size, OS deciding factors

The study also found that size and operating system (OS) tend to be the deciding factors for consumers choosing which smartphone to buy. For example, the market for display sizes of 4.5 inches and more currently make up over 20 percent of total market sales, and it is growing.

As for OS choice, the open source nature of Android appeals to many , with 7 in every 10 smartphones sold powered by Google's mobile operating system, GfK stated.

Tan added the Southeast Asian smartphone market will only continue to grow in the future, since some two-thirds of the region's population have yet to make the switch to smartphones. "Consumers in the developing regions will continue to be the driving force of the smartphone sector’s strong double or even triple digit growth performance in the coming years," he said.