Samsung tops 2016 for bestselling mobile phone brand in Malaysia

Samsung has come in first in popularity when it comes to mobile phone brands in Malaysia. According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker report, this was driven by its Galaxy J series by the budget-conscious crowd.

The report also added that the brand’s Galaxy Note 7 debacle had minimal impact to Samsung's overall performance in Malaysia as the high-end range was not its key seller in Malaysia.Meanwhile, Apple climbed to second place which is its usual position during the seasonal release of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Majority of the smartphones were sold on telco contracts.

2016 also saw Oppo maintaining its growth trajectory thanks to its marketing initiatives which help build its customer base. According to IDC, it also focused on a few key products, mainly the F1 series, which gained interest among the “selfie-loving” crowd.

Huawei’s P9 series also remained popular, its dual camera function being attributed as one of the key drivers for its growth due to being one of the few Android devices with this feature in the local market. This is despite almost a year since its release.

In terms of marketing initiatives, Asus was found to be sidelined by louder brands such as Oppo and Vivo. IDC stated that its Zenfone 3 lacked flair compared with the Zenfone 2, which was released back in 2015.

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Overall, the report pointed out that total smartphone shipments in Malaysia recorded approximately 2.7 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016. This brings 2016 to a close with approximately 8.8 million units shipped, a reported 5.9% decline year-over-year (YoY).

The slowdown was said to be caused by various negative economic factors. However, smartphone shipments still recorded activity as it was driven by consumers’ need to upgrade their phones to better ones that come with higher specifications such as larger memory size, battery capacity, camera quality, etc.

Meanwhile, vendors and resellers experienced minor setbacks as their profits were squeezed, mainly due to the weakening ringgit against the greenback combined with other rising costs.

For 2017, IDC predicts that vendors will streamline their model lineups. This is particularly the large vendors which attempt to move toward midrange or high-end devices to better manage their resources and stay relevant in the market.

Low-end devices catered to the budget-conscious consumers will mainly be supplied by either operator brands or lesser known brands. The prices of each new generation of smartphone released will also be higher compared with the last due to new features and the currency impact, which is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

“The market situation led local resellers to opt to upsell brands that not only have better margins, but have become popular with consumers, mainly Samsung and China brands such as Huawei, Oppo, and vivo.

He added that the budget and brand-conscious consumers are increasingly opting for brands that have become globally renowned via aggressive marketing initiatives and well-built devices.