Photo- Jensen Ooi Senior Market Analyst, Client Devices, IDC Asia Pacific.
While the forthcoming iPhone X's facial recognition system (Face ID) has nudged security and privacy conversations up a notch, in this Computerworld Malaysia 'rapidfire' interview, Jensen Ooi, who is senior Market analyst, Client Devices, IDC Asia Pacific, focuses on industry insights on the premium handset sector as a whole in Malaysia.
He also suggests how the latest generation of premium handsets from major companies may change user expectations.
Let's dive in: How will Apple's latest phones fare in the Malaysian market in the current operating environment?
Apple's iPhone X is a revival for the company after last year's launch of the iPhone 7, when it was dubbed to have "lost its innovative touch".
The iPhone X is the hottest phone out in the market now, but the price range would limit the purchase to only a niche segment of Malaysian consumers, especially Apple loyalists and scalpers.
On top of that, scarcity due to its supply situation would complicate its availability in the market.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus on the other hand would be the favoured options. Now equipped with wireless charging and augmented reality (AR) experiences, combined with its more reasonable price points, it would let the local end-users to be more discerning in considering the purchase of either of these two models.
What challenging factors in the local economy will affect premium handsets in general?
Consumer sentiments have been impacted due to the weakening of the MYR (Malaysian Ringgit currency) along with other ongoing macro-economic factors.
While most people would prioritise the purchase of a smartphone over other connected devices these days, the hefty prices of flagships would make them consider delaying their refresh for at least another year or so.
Operators have been and will be key to the adoption of high-end smartphones in Malaysia, however, the uptake remains gradual as majority of local consumers remain sensitive to the prices or/and would prefer to avoid being tied to the operators despite how attractive the bundle plans have been packaged.
How does the Malaysian sales of mobile handsets compare to other markets?
Malaysia remains an emerging market and still lags behind the mature markets like Singapore, Australia and South Korea where high-end flagship (US$700+) phones are in higher demand due to the local spending power.
Malaysia is at the replacement stage driven by value for money mid-range (US200<US400) smartphones most of which are from Samsung and various Chinese brands such as OPPO, vivo, Huawei, etc.
The growing adoption of 4G, push from operators, increasing use of various features and apps are also driving factors.
What surprises you most about the local handset market?
Smartphone vendors still see an opportunity here in Malaysia despite the dominance of Samsung, OPPO, Huawei, etc.
Just earlier this year, BLU and General Mobile entered the Malaysian shores positioning themselves as American brands and sold their devices at affordable prices that compete with the Chinese players.
So, brifely, what major change do you foresee in the next year or so?
Following Apple's release of AR enabled smartphones, there will be higher adoption of AR enabled smartphones now in the coming year or two as the Chinese vendors are expected to offer the same features soon to stay relevant in the market.
o see some other Malaysia-related IDC features, visit:
- IDC optimistic about smart devices and GST in Malaysia
- Malaysian enterprises still in early days of mobile adoption: IDC
- IDC receives MSC Malaysia status
- This is how Malaysia's ICT industry will transform in the next three years: IDC
- IDC Leadership interview: Can IT really help Malaysia achieve 'Vision 2020'?
- MDEC points Malaysian companies to US$48 billion pie