Thai smartphone sales decline 17% in Q2

Despite a double-digit decline in smartphone shipments to Thailand in the second quarter, premium handsets costing over US$400 (14,396 baht) surged 22% year-on-year, according to market research firm Counterpoint.

In the second quarter, smartphone shipments to Thailand declined 17% year-on-year to 4.2 million units, Counterpoint said.

“Thailand has a decent share of consumers who maintained a good financial standing during this economic slowdown,” said Glen Cardoza, senior analyst at Counterpoint.

“It is this type of consumer who looks to purchase at least a mid-tier smartphone even in such a slowdown.”

He said people interested in low-end smartphones are not buying now, beset by high inflation as food and other items rise in price.

This has resulted in a 23% year-on-year drop in shipments for smartphones costing less than $250, Mr Cardoza said.

Demand for higher-end phones are helping to offset the decline in Thailand, he said.

“Smartphones priced more than $400 have increased their sales substantially in the country over the last two years,” said Mr Cardoza.

In the second quarter, premium models of brands such as Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Realme saw increased demand with every new launch in this category, he said.

Apple largely dominates the ultra-premium segment in Thailand, said Mr Cardoza.

Top Chinese brands are branching out from low- and mid-tiers to the higher price brackets, while gaming is another aspect these brands are promoting better than Apple, he said.

Mr Cardoza said 5G-enabled handset shipments in the second quarter rose 20% year-on-year, with Samsung and Oppo leading this growth.

Despite a weaker baht, the country’s smartphone market is receiving a boost from improving tourism, increasing domestic production, growing exports and government initiatives to control inflation, he said.

“It is quite possible the smartphone market will start seeing a recovery towards the end of the third quarter,” said Mr Cardoza.

“We expect the last quarter is likely to be the key quarter in Thailand’s smartphone market revival in 2022.”

The online share of smartphone shipments rose to 22% in the second quarter, up 3% from the same period a year earlier, thanks to focused online marketing by e-commerce players and original equipment manufacturers.

Mobile operators are building a better broadband system with artificial intelligence-powered smart routers, particularly targeted at consumers who work and learn online, along with the growing number of gamers in the country, he said.

All these developments are boosting the appeal of smartphones despite the tumultuous economic situation, said Mr Cardoza.