Over 100 million mobile phones to ship in Southeast Asia this year

Canalys today announced that it expects 106 million mobile phones to ship in Southeast Asia this year, up 19% from the 90 million units that shipped in 2010.[1] Driven primarily by smart phone growth, Canalys estimates that this number will increase to 163 million by 2015. Over the next four years, smart phone shipments will achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39%, with particularly strong momentum anticipated in emerging markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The analyst firm highlights several key factors fuelling the region’s smart phone market expansion, including: Southeast Asia’s positive economic outlook; operator eagerness to grow average revenue per user (ARPU) from increased data subscriptions; strong social media usage among end-users; robust demand for mobility products; and competitively priced phones.

‘Southeast Asia has a diverse but incredibly dynamic smart phone market right now’, said Managing Director of Canalys, Mobile & Asia Pacific Rachel Lashford. ‘Consumers and vendors are in a win-win situation, thanks to a powerful combination of mobile-savvy end-users and a favorable economic landscape.’

Both within the region and globally, Singapore particularly stands out as having one of the most advanced markets in terms of smart phone penetration. In 2010, smart phones accounted for 61% of all mobile phones shipped in the country, significantly higher than the global average of 23%. Phones priced at the premium end of the market found favor with local consumers, with more than 50% of smart phone sales priced over $550. Canalys forecasts that this trend will continue through 2011, with high-end devices accounting for the majority of the 3.1 million smart phones expected to ship in Singapore.

‘The three major operators in Singapore have successfully enticed consumers through their wide product portfolios, competitively priced bundled data contract plans, attractive subsidies, and strong marketing campaigns to promote the latest smart phones’, said Canalys Principal Analyst Daryl Chiam. ‘SingTel, for example, has worked closely with HTC for the exclusive launch of the ChaCha smart phone last week.’

In contrast to Singapore, Canalys anticipates competitively priced mid- and lower-tier products to generate growth in other parts of Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, on the vendor front, Nokia will continue to face pressure as a result of its ongoing strategy and platform transitions. With its wide distribution network capable of pushing significant volumes, Canalys believes that the vendor is still well-placed and should not be underestimated.

‘Once Nokia is through this transitional period and has delivered a Windows Phone-based product portfolio across several price points, it will re-establish itself as a formidable force in the smart phone market’, said Chiam. ‘Until then, other manufacturers will be looking to fill the gap.’

RIM is predicted to expand further into Southeast Asia, building on its success in Indonesia. HTC will focus on growing its market share through a range of devices, including aggressively priced smart phones such as the Wildfire S. Local brand names that, until now, have been successful in the feature phone segment will also be keen to participate in smart phone growth. In particular, Spice has demonstrated its intent to develop quickly via its acquisitions of robust local handset brands in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia over the past year.