Sunday, 9 February 2014

Current state of Malaysia's smartphone market

Image: Google+
Malaysian's are getting more and more invested in mobile technology. The days of Blackberry's and Sony Ericsson's have long gone. Nowadays when you walk out in public, it's a common sight to see people with iPhone's, Galaxy's, iPads and various Android tablets. I've even seen a few people using tablets as phones, unfortunately. Nonetheless, the mobile market is booming in Malaysia, and Google did what Google does best - use their collected data from search to paint a picture of how the market looks. ++ Insights by Google Malaysia posted some interesting statistics last month, sharing with Google+ users the pattern of search queries relating to smartphones in the last three months of 2013. From this data, we can see what the most popular smartphones in the Malaysian market currently are, and also when interest in those phones peaked. You might be surprised at some of the conclusions that can be drawn from this data.

The iPhone is still the most popular smartphone in Malaysia
The iPhone 5s launched in Malaysia on the first of November 2013, and it was no surprise to see interest in this phone skyrocket in the weeks leading up to the launch. No other phone generated as much interest as this phone did, and that just shows how strong Apple's brand recognition is in the country. The 5c launched the same day, but it generated no where near as much interest as the 5s. In fact, the amount of interest in it is pretty darn sad, for an Apple product. It ranked #8 on the list by the end of the year, and even the Nexus 5 (a brand that's quite new to Malaysians) generated more interest than the iPhone 5c. When Tim Cook said that interest in the 5c wasn't what they expected, he wasn't joking. The 5c was a complete flop in Malaysia. I personally have never seen one in public.
Yes, even in Malaysia we have idiots iSheep consumers queueing
up at midnight for the iPhone 5s launch. Image: lowyat.net
Samsung maintains popularity throughout the year
While the iPhone launched late in the year, the Galaxy S4 launched much earlier, in the first half of the year. Despite being out for so long, general interest in the phone never really declined. By the end of the year, it was still the second most-searched for phone in Malaysia, only losing out to its bigger brother, the Note 3. In fact, if you look to Samsung's flagships from 2012 - the S3 and Note II - they are still attracting healthy interest in Malaysia, as evidenced by the search results. This just goes to show that as long as you keep your name in the media (advertising), people will never forget your products, even the older ones. 

Awareness of the Nexus brand is growing
The Nexus brand is Google's baby. They design the phone and they control the software. Among Android enthusiasts, the Nexus brand is the most beloved brand of them all. Despite this, the brand is not a major player in the mobile industry. It's rarely advertised by Google, and you rarely see any Nexus devices in public. But somehow, Malaysians got wind of the Nexus 5, and interest in the device peaked at the end of October - the launch of the Nexus 5. Globally, interest in the Nexus line has been increasing. Google failed to anticipate how high the demand for the Nexus 4 would be at launch, and the Nexus 5 was a major contributor to Google's revenue at the end of 2013. Even LG's revenue from smartphone sales jumped 29% thanks in part to the Nexus 5. So it's highly possible that this global interest in Nexus devices made its way to Malaysia as well. After all, the internet has no borders.
Despite the fact that you can only get the Nexus 5 via third-parties in Malaysia, the general
interest in the brand is higher that it has ever been previously. Image: +iPmart Malaysia
 
Sony's Xperia is Malaysia's third favourite smartphone brand
In many parts of the world, the real battle is for third place. While Apple and Samsung dominate the top two spots, the number three spot is up for grabs. Results will vary across the globe but in Malaysia, it's definitely the Xperia brand. I've seen quite a few Xperia's in public, definitely more than any other brand (besides Samsung and Apple of course). I think this has to do with the fact that prior to smartphones, the Sony Ericsson brand was really popular here in Malaysia. I myself used several different models in my teenage years. I think it's that trust and familiarity in Sony that has led to the popularity of the Xperia brand. Looking at the statistics, Sony have four smartphones in the top 11 most searched list. Only Samsung has as many devices in the top 11 as well.

No HTC presence
We all know HTC is struggling. So it's of no surprise really to see the lack of HTC smartphones in public in Malaysia. What I was surprised to see however, was that no HTC phone even made it on the list. Out of the 11 smartphones on the list (10 if you remove the Z Ultra), none of them were made by HTC. Sure you have other phones as well like Lumia's and Blackberry's Z10, but you would expect those models to not generate much interest in an Android-iOS duopoly. But to not see any significant interest in HTC at all, that's a little disheartening. Another less likely scenario is that Google just omitted the search data relating to HTC, but I see no reason for that. It's definitely more likely that Malaysians just aren't interested in HTC anymore.
Despie HTC's efforts, they just failed to garner much
attention from the Malaysian public. Image: HTC Malaysia
That's what I gathered from these interesting statistics released by Google in Malaysia. Does it surprise any of you? How's the mobile market in other parts of the world? I'm pretty sure the top two is the same no matter where you go, but what about the rest of the market? Nexus awareness on the rise? Who's #3 in your area? Feel free to share.