Malaysia Mobile Devices Remains Firm Amidst GST and Weakening Ringgit in 2015H1
According to International Data Corporation (IDC) Asia/Pacific Quarterly Mobile Phone and Tablet Trackers, a total of 4.8 million units of smartphones and 0.9 million units of tablets were shipped in 2015H1 in Malaysia. Smartphones and tablets grew by 42% and 15% respectively, compared with 2014H1. The smartphone market continues to be dominated by China and Taiwan vendors, while the tablet space remains dominated by global vendors.
“It was an especially challenging time for the retail channels in the first half of the year due to the weak market sentiments caused by multiple macroeconomic factors in Malaysia such as implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST), weakening ringgit against the U.S. dollar, and some political concerns. The catalyst of growth of smartphones was the large number of smartphones made affordable at less than RM500, bundled with SIM packs from local operators. It was a similar case for tablets as well as with devices priced at less than RM300,” said Jensen Ooi, market analyst for client devices in IDC Asia/Pacific.
Smartphone Market Highlights
Apart from Apple’s iPhone, shipments of Android flagship smartphones paled tremendously in comparison with previous years. Android handsets from China and Taiwan maintained their competitive edge with affordable price points that appealed to the target local market.
Samsung remained as the market leader in Malaysia market, recovering from a dip in 2014H2. Its growth was attributed to its Galaxy J series and Galaxy V model. The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge did not move so well in the local market.
- Asus remained strong as one of the top 5 vendors with highest shipments — mostly contributed by ZenFone 5 and ZenFone 2. The latter was one of its best sellers; however, the 4GB variant ran on a limited supply.
- Apple‘s iPhone 6 continued to remain popular due to its larger screen size compared with that of its previous versions.
- Lenovo picked up only in 2015Q2 as it bundled its low-end model, the A319, with local operator SIM packs sold at an affordable price. The A7000 model was sold exclusively via an online retail channel, and although it did not have a significant contribution to overall growth, it was a stepping stone for further expansion.
- Huawei has been able to stay competitive with high unit shipments because of its Honor series.
Tablet Market Highlights
The penetration rate of tablets continues to rise, although not as rapid as that of smartphones. The larger screen size may add to better user experience, but the price point is comparatively higher than that of smartphones, which may have equal or better overall specifications and features.
- Samsung remained as the market leader despite a decline of shipments compared with 2014 2H. The Galaxy Tab 3 Lite 7.0 remains its best-selling model.
- Lenovo partnered with a local operator for the entire 2015 H1 and tied its affordable low-end tablet, the Tab 2 A7-30, with a prepaid plan.
- Apple remained strong in the high-end tablet segment and was still able to capture significant market share despite declining growth.
- Asus‘ market share was driven by its affordable 7in. tablet, the Fonepad 7, which had a price point suitable for the local market that was looking for affordable Android tablets.
- Acer partnered with a local operator in 2015Q1 and tied its low-end tablet, the Iconia Tab A1-713, with a prepaid plan.
The impact from the overall economy will certainly be felt by both vendors and end users in 2015 Q3. IDC foresees that there is a high likelihood for an increase in the price of most devices in the open market mainly due to the weak ringgit. This could potentially trigger a possible delay for end users to upgrade or renew their existing devices. However, IDC still expects overall shipments of smartphones and tablets in 2015 to surpass those in prior years.
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