MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines emerged as the fastest growing market for smartphones in Southeast Asia over the last 12 months thanks to Filipino consumers’ growing love affair with SMS or short message service as well as media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Data released by one of the world’s largest research companies GfK showed that smartphone take-up rate in the Philippines reached 146 percent, faster than Thailand’s 140 percent, Vietnam’s 118 percent and Indonesia’s 30 percent.
About 5.754 million smartphones were sold in the Philippines from April 2012 to March 2013. The Philippines ranked fourth in terms of sales volume with Indonesia on top followed by Malaysia and Thailand.
Vietnam placed fifth in terms of sales volume of smartphones followed by Singapore and Cambodia. The survey period covered April 2012 to March 2013.
On top of being branded as the texting capital of the world, data from www.socialbakers.com showed that the Philippines ranked eighth in terms of number of Facebook users with 30.1 million accounting for about 30 percent of the total population or about 93.13 percent of the total online population.
GfK reported that consumers in Southeast Asian markets continue to snap up mobile handsets at a rapid pace, propelling the region’s overall mobile phone market to expand further by 14 percent in value and eight percent in units.
Declining demand for basic feature phones are met by the corresponding spike in smartphone sales as consumers spent almost $3.4 billion more on over 16 million units of smartphones compared to the previous year.
According to GfK findings, sales volume of smartphones surged 61 percent to reach a new high at over 42.2 million units.
Total worth of the smartphone market across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia reached the $11-billion mark.
Gerard Tan, account director for Digital World at GfK Asia, said in a statement that Southeast Asian consumers especially those in the developing countries are fuelling the exponential growth of smartphones as they switch over from their basic feature phone to the latest smartphone technology in their local market.
“In the past one year, one in every three mobile phones sold in this region was a smartphone,” Tan stressed.
Indonesia was the greatest contributor of smartphone sales revenue with 37 percent and a volume of 15.8 million.
“Growth in this region is primarily driven by affordable smartphones which averaged in the price range of $100 to $200. However, the rise of local brands in countries such as Philippines and Indonesia has resulted in the growing market share of those in the $50 to $100 price segment — the budget price range which bridges the transition from basic mobile phones to smartphones,” he stressed.
GfK said consumers are looking at the display sizes and operating system as the deciding factor of which model to purchase.
The market for display size spanning 4.5 inch and above which currently make up over 20 percent of total market sales is growing and is anticipated to continue expanding as manufacturers launch newer and bigger models.
In terms of operating system, the open source nature of Android has also acquired many fans, heightening its dominance with seven in every ten smartphones sold operating on the Android platform.
“Given that there is a substantial two-thirds of the region’s population who have yet to make the switch, there is still a sizeable potential market for manufacturers to capture and convert to smartphones users,” he added.