Smartphones annual sales in Malaysia peaked at 8.5 million units in 2014: GfK

gfkMarketplace intensifies with entrance of more players offering consumers more brand choices

13 February, 2015, KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian consumers just cannot get enough of smartphones; buying more of them each year to bring annual sales volume to yet another peak in 2014 at 8.5 million units. According to GfK reports, demand has been trending up with the smartphone market there sustaining its positive growth for the tenth consecutive year since it was first launched in 2004.

GfK retail sales tracking showed consumers buying around USD2.66 billion (MYR 8.74 billion) worth of the popular gadget between January and December last year. In spite of increasing sales volume, total consumer spend, however, was down by 4 percent against 2013 due to the falling prices of smartphones in the country.

“There was an influx of strong new players in the smartphones and phablets market in  the past year, presenting an even wider array of more affordable options for consumers,” commented Selinna Chin, Managing Director for GfK in Malaysia. “Demand peaked in December when sales volume in that month alone reached nearly 769,000 units—over 106,000 more than the slowest sales month in the same year.”

All regions across the country exhibited stable growth in 2014, with the Central region contributing to nearly half (46%) of the entire market share volume.

According to GfK’s latest report, the biggest spike in sales was contributed by the USD150 to USD200 segment of smartphones. Its volume share grew from 10 percent of the total market in 2013 to 16 percent in 2014; making it now the biggest segment within the local market.

“Smartphones below USD200 will continue to be in demand moving into 2015, driven by the multitude of brands, improved technical specifications, aggressive marketing and price erosion — key factors which will further encourage consumers to replace their smartphones,” said Chin. “In a separate GfK consumer survey conducted nationwide, nearly half of all respondents indicated that price is the most important deciding factor when choosing which phone to buy.”

Affordability as the key criteria when purchasing smartphones is further substantiated by the fact that sales of low to mid-range models — largely dominated by Chinese makers — have reflected robust take-up in the past one year. The result is a downward shift in average selling price of smartphones from USD 351 (MYR1,106) in 2013 to USD 315 (MYR1,031) in the past year.

GfK insights for 2014 showed a 19 percent surge in demand for the bigger screen smartphones sized between 4.1 inches to below 7 inches, as compared to the previous year. The latest report also indicated the continued penetration of Android phone sales to reach over 90 percent, from 85 percent in 2013.

“Nine in every ten smartphones sold in Malaysia last year are based on Android—not surprising since they account for 40 out of the 59 brands available in the market,” noted Chin.

The improving LTE network infrastructure in the country has also been stimulating growth of LTE enabled smartphones; which nearly doubled in take up last year. While 17 percent of smartphones sold in 2013 were equipped with LTE function, sales surged to almost 29 percent — translating to 3 in every 10 units sold.

“As LTE network coverage in Malaysia expands and the technology continues to develop around the world, LTE specification in smartphones will be increasingly sought after by users, gradually turning it into a basic feature of new models being launched,” Chin said. “We can expect to see this segment of the market becoming more competitive, with even entry level smartphones equipped with the LTE function,” she concluded.


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–    GfK retail sales tracking is conducted nationwide

–    Survey period: Jan-Dec 2014

–     Year on year comparison: Jan – Dec 2014 VS Jan – Dec 2013

–     Consumer survey: Fundamental needs of media tablet and smartphone users was conducted nationwide, face-to-face interview with 400 respondents in Nov 2014

–     USD150 to USD200 is equivalent to MYR 492 to MYR655