New favourite smartphone operating system emerges in SE Asia

Consumers demand for smartphones in Southeast Asia is proving to be insatiable and showing no signs of slowing down. The smartphone industry across the key Southeast Asian markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Philippines continues to expand with third quarter findings from leading global market research company GfK reporting more than 4.7 million units worth nearly USD 1.5 billion being sold in July to September 2011. This is a reflection of volume and value growth by 9 percent and 6 percent respectively over quarter two, and over two fold increment when compared to the same period last year, at 120 percent and 109 percent.

As the industry continues to enjoy boom, competition among the various smartphone operating systems (OS) intensifies further with a new hot favorite among consumers emerging in the latest quarter. According to recent findings from GfK Asia, sales volume of Android smartphones, which have been seeing a steady upward trend in Southeast Asia, has climbed two spots over the last two quarters to seize the top smartphone OS standing.

“GfK Asia’s retail tracking reveals consistently healthy sales performance of Android phones—the only smartphone OS which has been registering unwavering month-on-month growth over the last twelve months,” noted Mr. Benedict Hong, Regional Account Director for Telecommunications. “Compared to the third quarter a year ago, sales volumes of Android smartphones has grown exponentially by over 1,000 percent!”

Share of volume sales for smartphones running on Android OS have been rising over the last two quarters to reach nearly 40 percent, translating to two in every five smartphones sold being an Android phone. Along with RIM OS and Symbian OS, they make up the three top smartphone operating systems in Southeast Asia with combined shares totaling nearly 90 percent.

“However, it is interesting to note that some variation in popularity of smartphone OS exist in a couple of markets in this region. For instance, in Southeast Asia’s biggest smartphone market of Indonesia, RIM OS has been leading by a substantial margin for at least the last five consecutive quarters even as rivals struggle to make inroads,” observed Mr. Hong. “Another country in Southeast Asia which is also bucking the general trend is Vietnam, where Symbian has always been and still is the ruling smartphone OS today.”

“Despite the differences, one particular trend is obvious across every country in the region—the Android smartphone market is on a roll. From just over 50 models of Android smartphones available in the market a year ago, the figure has swelled to almost 170 models in the last quarter,” commented Mr. Hong. “With the ongoing engagement and partnership model between Google and major manufacturers, we can expect more innovative Android smartphones to swamp the marketplace; at least until there is another major breakthrough that can shake the dynamics of the smartphone OS industry,” Mr. Hong concluded.