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NEWS UPDATES 3 March 2010

Malaysia: Handset sales expected to rise 5 percent in 2010

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Growth of mobile handset sales in Malaysia was flat last year but, with a rebound in the economy, a 5 percent growth is forecast by experts for 2010.

This prediction is also backed by sales increasing 1.4 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Handset maker HTC Malaysia country manager S.K. Wong believes the handset market will flourish as a variety of mobile handsets will be offered this year.

“We believe it will be a very exciting year (for handset makers and consumers),” he said in an email.

IDC market analyst Chua Fong Yang said 5.5 million handsets were sold in Malaysia in 2008 and about the same figure was recorded last year. In 2008 the handset market was worth RM3.5bil but there are no available figures for 2009 and this year.

As at end-2009 the country had 30.3 million mobile subscribers and mobile penetration rates had reached 106.2 percent. Of this, 24 million and 6.2 million were prepaid and postpaid users respectively, according to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission website.

Sales of global handsets fell by 0.9 percent in 2009, the first decline in eight years, as consumers cut back on spending during the downturn, according to technology research company Gartner Inc. A rebound is expected and analysts are forecasting growth rates of 11 percent to 13 percent this year.

A total of 1.21 billion handsets were sold globally in 2009 led by sales of smartphones and lower-end devices. Of that, 483.5 million devices were sold in the Asia-Pacific region, up 6.7 percent from 453.1 million in 2008, Gartner said. Smartphone sales totalled 172.4 million units, a 23.8 percent increase from 2008, and this was led by compelling device experiences and touch interfaces.

It was reported that Samsung, Apple Inc and Google’s mobile phone operating system, Android, emerged as the biggest winners of 2009, making strong market share gains, while Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson lost ground.

Nokia’s world market share dipped from 38.6 percent in 2008 to 36.4 percent last year while both Samsung and LG grew their market share to 19.5 percent and 10.1 percent respectively.

In Malaysia, IDC Asean telecommunication research manager Lincoln Lee said the top three mobile phone vendors in terms of unit shipments for last year was Nokia, with a market share of 53 percent, Samsung (18 percent) and Sony Ericsson (11 percent). Increasingly, the Apple iPhone 3G & 3GS are gaining market share with about 91,000 units sold since March last year.

The other smartphone that is gaining popularity is Blackberry and Celcom Axiata Bhd claims it has over 100,000 Blackberry users.

Maxis Communications Bhd has been selling iPhones in the country since March last year and its monopoly will end as DiGi.Com Bhd enters the market before end-June this year. Market players are anticipating that prices of services and packages will drop but not that of the device with DiGi’s entry.

IDC’s Chua believes that touch-screen and QWERTY keyboards will remain a popular feature which will be a prerequisite among customers below the age of 25.

Ease of having social network software integrated as part of mobile phone features would also attract younger users and a user normally changed handsets every three to four years, he said.

Apple and Blackberry are popular but many are awaiting more Android phones to hit the market, particularly Nexus One, which is a tie-up between Google and Taiwanese electronics giant HTC. The other makers of the Android phones include LG, Samsung, Acer and Asur.

“Despite strong initiatives from various mobile phone vendors to launch Android in Malaysia in 2010, IDC foresees that the launch of Android-based mobile phones will only take place in the second half-year,” IDC said.

An analyst said Apple’s concern was the growth of Android phones but Apple had some lead time to maximise on its positioning before the Android craze catched up as Android phones could be the future of ubiquitous Internet surfing and the cost could be half or a fraction of the iPhone cost. Android phones will be driven via channel basis compared with the operator-driven iPhone.

For the next three years, IDC remains confident that the sales of Android mobile phones will not exceed that of iPhones in Malaysia.


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