12 mil smartphones sold in 2021, Samsung, Xiaomi dominate M’sian market

by AZREEN HANI/ pic by AFP

Malaysia’s smartphone market closed 2021 with over 12 million units according to the latest International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.

Aggressive shipments in 2021H1 fuelled this growth despite a decline for both supply and demand in the second half of the year.

“A government subsidy program plus relatively uninterrupted logistics compared to neighbouring ASEAN markets drove Malaysia’s market in 2021H1,” Ahmed M. Ahmed, Market Analyst for Malaysia Mobile Devices said in a statement.

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The report stated that both Samsung and Xiaomi cemented their dominance in Malaysia’s market. The combined shipments of both brands accounted for nearly 50% of all smartphones in 2021.

“Honor’s reentry in late 2021 received a muted response. However, the gap left by Huawei in the high-end Android market can be shaken by a familiar brand,” Ahmed added.

A subsidy program was rolled out last year to provide the Bottom 40 economic group (B40) with affordable access to smartphones through telco operators. 

“Top vendors used this opportunity to partner with operators and expand through this channel. This includes vendors that are not considered a strong player in the telco space, like Xiaomi,” Ahmed said further.

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IDC is forecasting a flat growth for smartphones in 2022 as consumer demand for smartphones is expected to drop while spending on entertainment and elsewhere take priority.

The report further stated that despite over 28% of smartphones shipped in 2021 being 5G capable, 5G is still not offered by the major players in the country. Malaysia is lagging other countries in Southeast Asia. After the initial hesitancy, the top operators have welcomed the latest cabinet decision to relinquish 70% of its stake in Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).

This shareholding agreement will kickstart the commercial rollout of 5G.

Going forward, 5G will be a strong driver for consumer upgrades, with projections for nearly 50% of shipments in 2023, up from 36% in 2022,IDC said.

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The looming merger between Digi and Celcom is set to make the new entity the largest telco operator in the country.

“Enticing consumers to stay with attractive 5G plans and bundles will be a high priority for Maxis and other telcos to remain competitive in the market,” added Ahmed.