Smartphone sales face drop of 30%

The smartphone market is expected to see a 30% drop in sales if the political impasse lasts for several more months.

At least 100 mobile outlets may have to close if the political conflict is not resolved before the second half of this year, said Opas Cherdpunt, the managing director of M Vision, an organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo, the country's biggest mobile show.

''Sales during the event will likely miss the earlier target by up to 20% from 1.5 billion baht in the normal situation," he said.

The show is an indicator of consumer confidence in the mobile phone market.

Mr Opas said the sentiment was almost similar to the 2010 political crisis.

''From last November to January this year, sales of mobiles in protest areas dropped by nearly 40% including in MBK shopping centre,'' said Mr Opas.

He said in the second half of 2014, at least 100 outlets owned by two major mobile phone dealers will likely close due to financial problems.

These exclude small mobile vendors that have been heavily affected by the unrest.

Running from Feb 13-16 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Thailand Mobile Expo 2014 gathers together 40 brands of phone makers and four mobile operators that have joined the parade to slash prices by 15-20%. The event offers a variety of models featuring phones starting at 1,000 baht to smartphones at 30,000 baht.

Amid intense competition to drive users to migrate to 3G, mobile phone operators have slashed prices by up to 50% for the iPhone 4S and 5C.

Phone makers will also introduce budget smartphones priced below 2,000 baht. Alcatel offers a 1,990-baht smartphone to tap feature phone and first-time smartphone users.

Wichai Pornpratang, Thai Samsung Electronics' vice-president for telecommunications and IT business, said the company will launch a smartphone below 2,500 baht this year.

Samsung, a leader in terms of units and revenue, acknowledges the slowdown of smartphone sales in Bangkok but said sales upcountry have compensated.

He said the sales of local mobile phones, particularly smartphones, will expand by 10-20% this year. Currently, smartphones contribute the highest revenue to Samsung Thailand.

During the event, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Grand2 equipped with a 5.25-inch screen at 11,900 baht and the Galaxy Note 3 that supports 4G connectivity at 24,900 baht.

Jeerawut Wongpimonporn, the country general manager at Lenovo (Thailand), said the smartphone market this year will likely be dominated by big screens sized up to five inches, accounting for half of new smartphones.

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