Smartphones on the cusp of overtaking feature phones in Thailand

Thailand has been known to be a huge feature phone market, just like Indonesia. However, a release published by GfK Retail and Technology Asia proved that the Southeast Asian country with some 69 million people is getting increasingly tech-savvy. The report reveals that in the first quarter of 2013, a total of 2.87 million smartphones were sold in Thailand.

According to the survey results, “two in every five mobile handsets sold was a smartphone.” Not only has sales doubled from one in every five handsets two years back, findings also stated that it all started in early-2012. Apparently, consumers in the nation started spending more than US$800 million on smartphones in that year alone.

Sales for feature phones took a dip of over 11 percent, compared to the previous year. Revenue figures also revealed the surge of smartphones in the country. Previously, feature phones had accounted for 40 percent of the total handset market, and now, only a meagre 15 percent.

Wichit Purepong, managing director for GfK in Thailand said that there is a growing demand for these smartphone handsets since the second quarter of 2012. He added, “This growth has been purely contributed by smartphones, which registered the greatest spike of 24 percent in volume sales in the first quarter of this year over the quarter before.”

Northeast as fastest growing region in Thailand

While Bangkok might have the most number of smartphones, the Northeast region — in this case Isan — has been reported to be the fastest-growing region in Thailand when it comes to these devices. GfK findings for the first four months of 2013 showed that smartphone sales units across a total of 17 provinces there had increased three times as compared to the year before, exceeding the momentum in both central and western regions.

Purepong explained that the northeast region has the largest population numbers and size in Thailand, but still remains as the least developed. It has the lowest average income in the country, and that itself is quite a blessing. Many of the natives would often leave for other parts of the country to find a better paying job. He added, “However, the establishment of new industrial estates after the heavy flooding of 2011 has attracted the labor force back to northeast, fuelling higher demand in this case, for smartphones, since mid of 2012.”

Price is also another determining factor, as findings reveal: the average price of a smartphone might cost about US$300 in most affluent areas in central or western regions, but in the northeast region, it would probably cost about US$230. Purepong also said that they will be anticipating the adoption of smartphones to bring in at least 70 percent of growth in value to drive the handset market in 2014.

More opportunities for those outside of Bangkok

One might ask whether the city of Bangkok is really representative of the whole of Thailand. Probably not. A quick train ride down to the less-developed provinces would open your eyes to what the rest of the country is looking at. However, this surge of smartphones, especially in the northeast regions, would mean more opportunities for startups looking at targeting those outside of the capital. For many Thais living in these areas, their first Google search, Facebook status, or Skype call would be on a smartphone, not a desktop.

However, there will definitely be an array of challenges for anyone trying to venture into these provinces. Things like literacy rates, purchasing power, level of innovation and adoption definitely will play a part but it’ll be exciting to know that there is this huge market, full of potential, just waiting to be tapped on by startups, conglomerates, banks and other major players.This article by Elaine Huang originally appeared on e27, a Burn Media publishing partner.

Also Read

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’
    ‘Conflict to affect economic growth, stability in SEA’

    Conflict in the South China Sea can affect economic growth and stability in Southeast Asia, New Zealand warned yesterday, amid China’s aggressive reclamation activities in disputed waters. New Zealand is marking its 40 th year of diplomatic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and hopes to intensify trade and other linkages with the 10-member grouping. ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims with China over the Spratly …

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. Pagdilao stressed that it has been more than a month since De Lima announced to the media that the DOJ would be …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options