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Competition intensifies in Thai smart-phone market

Aug 08. 2013
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By Jirapan Boonnoon
The Nation

16,819 Viewed

Newcomers Lenovo, Acer committed to the battle; local players focus on affordability
Major PC manufacturers Lenovo and Acer – newcomers to the mobile-phone arena – have picked up pace in the Thai smart-phone market, while local providers are increasingly competing on price in a bid for a bigger slice of the 8-million-unit market this year.
Subhasiddhi Rakkasikorn, managing director of Samart Multimedia, a local company providing smart phones and mobiles under its i-mobile brand, said the 3G smart-phone market in Thailand was highly competitive as demand continued to rise. 
However, the firm is focused on offering smart phones at affordable prices and bundled with new technology, he said. 
“The smart-phone market is now in a period of intense price competition. We therefore try to provide our local brand with affordably priced smart phones. Mobile phones priced at less than Bt5,000 are in high demand, therefore the firm will come out with both feature phones and smart phones to reduce the gap and cover all segments of the market,” he added.
Samart Multimedia, which currently offers more than 30 mobile-phone models, has divided its devices into three segments: premium smart phones, mass smart phones, and feature phones. 
It sold more than 1 million units in the first half of the year, and expects the full-year figure to come in at around 2.2 million. 
Acer, meanwhile – a leading PC-maker that jumped into the global mobile-phone arena last year – is now strongly focused on the Thai market this year. 
Last week, the firm announced a new smart phone, the Acer Liquid Z3, which is an Android-based device that comes with Dual SIM capability at a price of just Bt2,590. 
Acer is concentrating on the mid- to entry-level market and hopes to break into the top three in the Thai entry-level smart-phone market in the next couple of years.
Jeerawut Wongpimonporn, country general manager of Lenovo Thailand, said the firm was also a newcomer to the mobile-phone market. 
Having set up a Thai business unit and team to support the new market, the company now provides devices to cover the entry, medium and high-end markets, with six models in its A-series, S-series, P-series and K-series. 
The A-series covers affordable smart phones designed for first-time buyers, while the S-series focuses on design and lightweight phones for mid-level customers.
The P-series is designed for professional users, while the K-series is for tech-savvy customers. 
The Chinese maker’s smart phones are available in Thailand at a wide range of prices, from Bt3,000 to Bt15,000. 
The company has also appointed Bright Point to distribute its phones throughout the Kingdom, he said. 
ST Liew, president of Smart Phone Business group at Acer Inc, said the Taiwanese company’s strategy is to provide smart phones to selected markets, and its Thai goal is to be in the top three in the entry-level market for devices priced less than Bt4,500 in the next two years.
“The entry-level smart-phone market is the right market for us, as it is the fastest-growing segment in Thailand, which is a very important market for us,” said Liew.
Nitipat Praweenwongwuthi, senior marketing manager of Acer Computer, said the company expected to ship some 300,000 units in the Kingdom this year.
Meanwhile, Neeranuch Kanokvilairat, senior market analyst – Telecommunications, IDC Thailand, said the country now had around 85.9 mobile subscriptions in total, with 2G and 2.5G subscribers accounting for 89 per cent and 3G users making up the rest. 
The company expects the number of 3G subscribers will increase to 27 per cent next year and to around 42 per cent in 2017, since mobile operators will be in transfer mode and migrating their technology and networks to 3G. 
However, IDC considers the network quality of 3G services is still not stable, although it will improve by the end of this year, she said.

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