Chinese phone makers are capturing most of the Southeast Asian market

OppoThe Southeast Asian smartphone market was dominated by Chinese brands in the second quarter of 2019, taking 62 per cent of shipments in the region, according to Canalys.

Chinese smartphone makers – mostly Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Realme, and Huawei – were responsible for 19m of the 30.7m units shipped during the quarter, meaning there was a 50 per cent year-over-year (YoY) growth for the Chinese brands. The 30.7m overall shipments represented a modest growth of two per cent over the same quarter last year, following several quarters of decline.

“Southeast Asia is popular for new brands, as the chances of success are higher than in other parts of the world,” said Canalys analyst Matthew Xie.

South Korean brand Samsung sold 7.7m units to claim the individual top spot, up five per cent YoY after three quarters of decline. Oppo was a close second with 7.3m units sold – its best-ever quarter performance and a growth of 49 per cent. Vivo remained third, shipping 4.1m handsets, while Xiaomi moved up into fourth place with its 3.7m units sold. Realme entered the top five for the first time, shipping 1.6m smartphones, despite only being in Southeast Asia for three quarters. This meant that Huawei fell out of the top five as its various international struggles continue.

“Samsung is fighting back in Southeast Asia, where its leadership position has been challenged by Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi,” said Xie. “Samsung chose Thailand to host the global launch event for its latest A series, to show the strategic importance of Southeast Asia.”

Research analyst Shengtao Jin added: “Oppo is moving aggressively to overtake Samsung as the leader in Southeast Asia. Spinning off the Realme operation last year has allowed the brand to expand aggressively in many markets… Together, Oppo and Realme have already exceeded Samsung’s shipments in this region. But, given Oppo’s top-selling devices remain its A5s and A3s, it is still facing challenges when trying to position itself as a high-end alternative to Samsung. The launch of the Reno series in June, plus its significant marketing spend, will be vital for Oppo’s attempt to break into the premium market, but it is still too early to see results.”