Dec. 13--Mobile phone sales in Thailand over the past three weeks dropped by almost 10% because of the ongoing political unrest.
The local handset industry is facing the same fate as other retail sectors, says global handset maker Nokia.
The Finnish firm is introducing its lowest-priced basic smartphone at 2,250 baht to capitalise on the increasing migration from 2G to 3G mobile broadband services.
Nontawan Sindhavanada, the marketing head of Nokia (Thailand), said higher spending on marketing will continue to build Lumia brand recognition and promote a series of new flagship products. One model to be launched this month is the Lumia 1520 smartphone. The high-end Windows-based phablet features a six-inch display and 20-megapixel camera.
"We believe smartphones with display screens of 4.5 to six inches will become the most popular size in the market in 2014," said Ms Nontawan.
Smartphones priced below 3,000 baht accounted for half of handset unit sales this year, making up 80% in value, thanks to 3G migration.
To capture the burgeoning entry-level smartphone market, Nokia is introducing two new Asha models, the Asha 500 and Asha 503, priced at 2,250 and 2,990 baht, respectively.
Ms Nontawan said the average price of basic smartphones declined sharply from 4,500 baht last year to 3,000 baht because of intense competition and the popularity of social media.
"The average price of entry-level smartphones will dip below 2,000 baht next year," she said.
Nokia's Lumia models will be priced over 5,000 baht.
Apinya Sermchuvitkul, GfK's telecom accounts manager, said the country's political uncertainty would continue dampening consumer sentiment and purchasing demand.
GfK, however, believes smartphone sales in Thailand will reach 9.2 million units this year, with 18 million total handset sales.
(c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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