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Smartphone sales in region hit 18m in Q1

First-quarter smartphone sales in Southeast Asia reached 18 million in units worth $4.2 billion, according to GfK.

Demand for Phablets surged to over 1.1 million units. Indonesia and Malaysian are the biggest markets.

Latest GfK data shows that smartphone take-up has passed the halfway mark in the overall handset market, which includes basic feature phones, making up 55 per cent in March across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Smartphone sales volume continues to break its own record month after month to reflect its continued staggering growth of 43 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2013. In value terms, the popular gadget generated nearly $4.2 billion in sales in January to March - 25 per cent more compared to a year ago.

"Demand for mobile handsets is stabilising as indicated by the slight 2 per cent growth in volume sales, but we continue to see consistent deepening of smartphone penetration in this region," said Gerard Tan, account director for Digital World at GfK Asia.

"More than half the market today is contributed by smartphones and the trend will be sustained as the switchover in emerging markets takes precedence."

The top three growth markets for smartphones, according to sales volume in quarter one, were Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, which reported 68, 59 and 45 per cent increased sales respectively. Indonesia is also the largest market, with consumers buying over 7.3 million units, or two-fifth of the region's smartphones.

"The intensified penetration in Thailand and Vietnam was likely driven by the 3G launch last year, which served as a catalyst tipping consumers in these two countries towards the smartphone segment," Tan said.

Meanwhile, phablets, or large smartphones with a screen size measuring over 5.6 inches, have become increasingly sought after. Over 1.1 million units worth $567 million have been sold, with Malaysia and Indonesia being the biggest markets for this sector.

"Several popular international brands have officially announced the launch of a number of flagship models in the next two quarters of this year, and this could likely be holding consumers back from their purchases in anticipation of the new models," Tan said.

"We can be expecting these events to play a major contributing role in boosting the smartphone market further across this region to turn in yet another stellar performance."


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