According to the latest GfK Point of Sales tracking of APAC’s smartphone sector, in January-July 2020, the smartphone market value shrunk by 20% to reach just over $119 billion or nearly $30 billion less than the same period in 2019. Overall, the region’s consumers bought around 329 million smartphones or 97 million units fewer than in 2019.

German market research firm GfK points to the COVID-19 pandemic calling the smartphone sector in the Asia Pacific as one of the casualties also citing that it “consistently turned in years of consecutive positive growth.”

“The region’s smartphone market was hardest hit in the second quarter when many countries here entered lockdown mode. This was also when we started observing new trends emerging and the corresponding shifts in consumer demand for durable goods,” said Alexander Dehmel, Market Insights Lead APAC at GfK. “Based on the broad range of categories that GfK tracks, consumers started purchasing more products that support home requirements (work, cook, entertainment), moving away from mobility-related gadgets such as smartphones and wearable devices.”

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Based on GfK’s data, Taiwan is the only market which managed to still turn in marginal growth (1%), while the rest of the 15 markets reported wide-ranging declines in market value, from the single-digit levels seen in Indonesia (-4%) and Thailand (-7%) to the higher double-digit drops reported in India and Singapore (both -42%).

As the first market affected by the pandemic, China’s smartphone market managed to rebound faster when compared to the rest of the major markets in the region. Its overall sales value from January to July recorded the least impact, at -15%, compared to Korea (-17%), and Japan (-33%), and India (-42%).

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Entry-level, mid-range phones

GfK is seeing a trend of consumers turning to entry-level and mid-range smartphones. In emerging markets, the dominant price segment range from $100 to $200, “which accounted for 56% of total market share.” In developed markets, however, the shift is evident with consumers choosing the $400-$600 price segment over the $800-priced smartphones.

“We are expecting some recovery in the closing quarter into 2021, under the assumption that the COVID-19 situation improves and remains under control in the local markets,” said Dehmel. “The region’s smartphone market should be back on track to growth by the second half of 2021, driven largely by the much anticipated 5G devices that would be progressively launched into the key 5G markets at prices that are more affordable for mass adoption.”



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