Boom Times Continue as Southeast Asia’s Smartphone Market Value Expands by 62 Percent in Quarter One 2012

Highest growth witnessed in the Philippines while Indonesia boasts the largest market

The growth momentum of Southeast Asia’s smartphone market continues rapidly with all seven key markets tracked by GfK in the region reporting a total of nearly 7.7 million units worth almost USD

2.4 billion being snapped up in the first three months of 2012. According to GfK Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, and Cambodia registered spikes in demand for smartphones in the range of 40 to 400 percent more over the same period last year. The smartphone revolution is in full swing but not all consumers are fully converted yet as one in three mobile phones sold last quarter was still a feature phone; although figures have been gradually dwindling over the last few years. Share of smartphones have correspondingly been rising and today contribute more than 66 percent to the overall mobile phone pie, up from last year’s 50 percent in quarter one.

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“The largest smartphone market in this region expectedly is Indonesia which has a smartphone penetration rate of 62 percent and enjoyed sales exceeding USD1.4 billion last quarter,” commented Mr. Gerard Tan, Account Director for Digital Technology at GfK Asia. “Meanwhile, the markets with deepest smartphone penetration are Malaysia and Singapore where levels have already reached a high of 88 percent, translating to almost nine out of every ten in the general population being a smartphone user.”

Latest GfK findings have uncovered some apparent consumer trends in smartphones across the region, one of which is the increasing preference towards touch only devices, whose take up rate today make up more than seven in ten (71%) smartphones—a considerable jump from last year’s 47 percent.

Another interesting development is the brisk sales enjoyed by the increasing number of smartphones which are equipped with advanced camera features. GfK reports revealed that over 35 percent of all smartphones sold in Southeast Asia in the first three months of the year were equipped with a camera of eight megapixel or more, as compared to figures one year ago which was only 12 percent. This mounting trend is especially apparent in Cambodia (70%), Singapore (67%) and Malaysia (58%).

“The relatively stable prices of smartphones averaging around USD309 in the region will continue to drive the industry’s strong growth momentum,” highlighted Mr. Tan. “In developing Southeast Asia where smartphone penetration is still nowhere near saturation levels, we can be sure that the current sales spurt will carry on for at least the next few years. With much of the populace still not owning a mobile phone, there is no better place for global mobile phone brands to focus their sales and marketing efforts,” Mr. Tan concluded.