TrueMove has reported 200% growth in its sales of BlackBerry smartphones during the past four months. The record performance is three times its gross sales of BlackBerry last year, the strongest growth posted since the brand was introduced in Thailand.
The success was attributed to demand for the TrueMove 3G+WiFi network, also 3G will not be available before 2011 in Thailand.
Papon Ratanachaikanont, deputy group chief commercial officer of True Corporation, said TrueMove had been keeping a close eye on the BlackBerry market which has exhibited rapid, continuous growth in both its domestic and global customer bases.
Changes in lifestyles and the embracing of non-voice communications by mobile phone users supported by operators' improved network facilities have increased the brand's popularity, he said.
TrueMove has advantages and strengths in the smartphone market as the country's 3G+WiFi leader, which has the largest WiFi coverage in Asia with 17,000 hotspots across Thailand, said Mr Papon. Services also include EDGE/GPRS that enable TrueMove customers to enjoy faster communications.
The Bangkok Post repoted that the smartphone market in Thailand is set to grow at almost 50% this year to value 12.5 billion baht, says HTC Thailand, a Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer.
Nattawat Woranopakul, country manager of HTC Thailand, said smartphone sales are expected to top 1 million this year – up from 670,000 last year and 300,000 in 2008 – thanks to lower handset prices and the popularity of social networking.
The market is expected to hit 12.5 billion baht this year, up from 8 billion last year.
The average smartphone price is expected to drop to 12,500 baht this year, down from 15,000 last year and 20,000 in 2008, he said.
Mobile operators expect mobile non-voice revenue to outpace last year’s 11%, when the market was worth 23 billion baht.
The initial forecast for last year’s smartphone sales was only 400,000 units, said Mr Nattawat. The surge in demand was fuelled by many new models from Samsung and LG and by the marketing campaign of mobile operator DTAC, the latest authorised distributor for BlackBerry phones.
Local mobile phone sales are expected to hit 10 million this year, up from 9.7 million last year. Smartphones should account for 10% of that total.
Mr Nattawat said HTC expects its smartphone sales to double this year to 200,000 units, helped by penetration of the mass market with prices of less than 7,000 baht.
Mobile phones priced less than 7,000 baht provided almost 60% of sales. Handsets priced between 20,000 and 30,000 baht, where HTC had almost half of the market, made up only 2-3%.
Already, Google’s Android Marketplace has more than 30,000 apps made for smartphones running on its mobile operating system. Chetan Sharma Consulting told the BBC that the charging model which dominates the app ecosystem is changing. “Advertising and the sale of virtual goods has helped expand choices for developers and we will see all of that ramp up in the next couple of years.”
And, of course, the possibilities are enormous, with 270 million mobile subscribers in the US alone and with 29.1 million of them smartphone users. And in addition to the high numbers in the US, the majority of users in the developing world are going online for the first time using a this device.
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