PC demand soft, slow recovery for smartphones

A shaky outlook can still be expected in the IT segment in the fourth quarter because of lacklustre consumer sentiment caused by pandemic-fuelled economic woes, though the smartphone market could see a rebound supported by the roll-out of 5G-enabled handsets, including the iPhone 12.

Peerapat Samarnmit, a market analyst at IT research firm IDC Thailand, said the PC market is likely to see soft demand in the fourth quarter because of the impact from the outbreak, which hinders consumer spending confidence, coupled with political uncertainty.

The government’s spending reduction could also jeopardise the industry, Mr Peerapat said.

“We are also seeing a shortage of computers, which could hamper vendors’ sales targets,” he said.

After the lockdown was lifted, the economy appears to have gradually recovered, allowing more marketing activities from IT vendors to be planned, Mr Peerapat said.

In November, the Commart computer trade show is scheduled along with other IT exhibitions that could help stimulate sales, he said.

Teerit Paowan, a mobile phone market analyst at IDC Thailand, said the smartphone market started to recover from the third quarter, which normally sees low demand in handsets. However, economic woes are still expected to weigh on consumer sentiment over the next few months.

In the fourth quarter, the launch of the iPhone 12, believed to be 5G-compatible, could help rejuvenate the market, he said.

As Apple opened its second retail store in Thailand in July, this should play a part in building the momentum of iPhone sales in the country, Mr Teerit said.

He said Chinese smartphone makers will usher in 5G-compatible handsets at mid-range prices of 13,000-15,000 baht. Previous 5G-enabled smartphones were mostly flagship models priced above 30,000 baht.

“We believe the smartphone market in Thailand will drop over 10% this year from 18 million units in 2019,” Mr Teerit said. “The second half should be better than the first half, which saw a drop of 11% year-on-year.”