Global smartphone sales have reached a plateau with shipments for the second quarter of 2016 only up by 0.3% on the same period the previous year according to industry analyst IDC. South-east Asia, however, continues to buck the trend with a 6.5% year-on-year increase in smartphone sales reaching 28 million devices in Q2.
Over 600 million people constitute the collective population of the region, and smartphone sales reached 100 million for the first time last year across its seven largest countries. Sales were up 18% in Q2 of this year compared to the same period in 2015. Leading the market pack was Indonesia followed by Thailand and the Philippines, accounting for 29%, 22% and 14% of sales, respectively.
Lower-priced models were the overall winners with 68% of devices sold costing under $150. Korean market leader Samsung accounted for 20% of smartphone sales with its Galaxy J series topping the charts. Chinese brands are also making inroads with Oppo right behind it a 12% market share for the three month period. A relatively unknown brand a few years ago, Oppo has become the world’s fourth largest in the second quarter of this year, with a year on year sales increase of 136%. The once dominant Apple did not even make it to the top five in the region and saw a 15% decline in global shipments for Q2 compared to the same period last year.
As the rest of the world ventures beyond 4G, much of South-east Asia is still using its predecessor 3G, which makes lower priced compatible handsets more popular in the region as carriers offer lucrative deals on discounted phones and data packages. Countries such as Thailand are still widely using 2G out of the major cities due to corporate squabbling over issuing licenses delaying the deployment of higher speed connectivity throughout the Kingdom.
Overall, China remains the world’s leading market for smartphone sales with an estimated 30% share for 2016. India has a long way to catch up with around 10% global market share.
Search giant Google is boosting its internet services in Asia again by switching on an undersea cable this week that will enable faster speeds and access to its services in the region. The cable, an extension of a 5,600 mile trans-Pacific cable from the FASTER Consortium that went online in June, links company facilities in Taiwan with a location in Japan that is connected to the US. It will enable data transfer speeds of up to 26 terabits per second which equates to 138 billion selfies per day according to a Google blog post.
Google is eager to increase speeds and connectivity in Asia due to a large number of users in the region accessing the internet for the first time. It claims that 3.8 million people go on the internet for the first time each month in Southeast Asia alone, this is a huge market for the tech giant’s online services; “With more people coming online every day in Asia than anywhere else in the world, we’ve been working hard to invest in the infrastructure needed to make the Internet work for all of us who live in the region,” it stated.
Google users in Asia should theoretically see faster speeds when accessing Google Docs, Drive and Youtube though local connectivity issues and filtering in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos maybe be the bottleneck. Singapore and Korea, which already have some of the fastest internet speeds in the world, could see the greatest improvements.
China is to tighten its regulation over online maps to highlight territories under its claim as tensions rise with neighbors. State media reported that the government had noticed that some maps were inaccurate and will increase checks and order corrections to protect “national sovereignty and interests”.
A circular by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation and the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs said a large number of online maps have not been approved. It cited incorrect drawing of national boundary lines, stating that some “territorial islands were mistakenly left out” in reference to waters and islands China claims in the South and East China Seas.
Google maps, which are blocked in China, are vastly inaccurate – the government considers geographic information about the People’s Republic to be a matter of national security, so private surveying and mapping activities have been illegal on the mainland since 2002. Digital mapping services that are available within the country are strictly controlled and use a specific coordinate system called a geodetic datum, devised and formulated by the Chinese State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping. Additional encryption algorithms have been added to map data to add random offsets to latitude and longitudinal geographic coordinates.
China is currently involved in disputes with 8 countries over 14 territories and vehement rejection of any maps that don’t reflect their version of the territorial borders is the norm.