Smartphone sales skyrocketing in Thailand, THB25 billion sold in past year

Smartphones purchases are skyrocketing in Thailand.

Sales of smartphones accounted for only 20% of all mobile phone purchases in the Kingdom two years ago – that number in the last 12 months has more than doubled to 42% with a total of USD800 million (THB24.88 billion) spent in the time period, according to a report by researcher GFK.

“Consumers demand for handsets has been growing successively every quarter since the second quarter of 2012, inflating the volume and value of the market considerably by 23 and 61 percent respectively in the past 12 months,” said Wichit Purepong, Managing Director for GfK in Thailand. “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.”

Interestingly, the Isaan region – traditionally Thailand’s poorest – is showing the fastest growth of smartphone sales.

GFK found that smartphone sales across the 17 provinces of Isaan more than quadrupled (%344 growth) in the first four months of 2013 compared to the previous year.

“Although the northeast region is the largest in term of population and size, it is the least develop and has the lowest average income in Thailand; and the low wage has propelled some of the natives here to head out to other parts of the country to find better paying jobs,” explained Purepong. “However, the establishment of new industrial estates after the heavy flooding of 2011 has attracted the labor force back to northeast, fueling higher demand in this case, for smartphones, since mid of 2012.”

Another reason for the boom in sales is for the simple reason that smartphones are cheaper upcountry than in Bangkok. The average smartphone costs about USD300 (THB9,300) in affluent areas of Bangkok, but only USD230 (THB7,155) in Isaan.

Photo : A familiar scene on the BTS, by Praj Kiatpongsan.

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