Smartphone adoption in the Philippines is growing faster in Asia than anywhere else – a reported 75 percent year-on-year increase in mobile shipments last year proves that. According to a recent survey conducted by rewards platform Jana, this growth is being fueled not by big names like Samsung but by the increasing demand of homegrown smartphone brands in the country.
The Philippines’ top three homegrown smartphone brands are Cherry Mobile, MyPhone, and Starmobile – all of which offer low-cost Android-based smartphones, as well as Android tablets and a wide variety of feature phones too.
Jana’s survey shows that 85 percent of respondents in the Philippines are happy to buy from a local smartphone brand. That’s very bad news for Nokia and Samsung, which are the nation’s top two brands right now. The report from Jana says that Cherry ranks as the third most-owned smartphone brand (17 percent), and MyPhone is in fifth spot at four percent. Samsung sits as the second most owned smartphone brand in the country at 24 percent. But if the adoption of low-cost smartphones in the Philippines continues to increase at the current rate, it’s possible that these homegrown brands can wreck Samsung’s market share.
The country’s smartphone penetration is only at 15 percent now, so it has a long way to go – and grow.
Smartphones for less than fifty bucks
It’s also striking to note that, to-date, the Philippines is still a feature phone market. An IDC report shows that of the 28 million mobile shipments in the country in 2013, 22.9 million are still feature phones.
That explains Nokia’s rank as the most-owned brand in the survey, with 28 percent ownership. Nokia now has Windows Phone-powered smartphones, but they’re a recent addition. Android is the dominant smartphone OS, with a strong desire for iOS and iPhones coming after that.
What do all these numbers mean? They mean that smartphone growth in the country is coming from feature phone users who are shifting to smartphones. The burning question for these consumers is whether they opt to purchase a high-end smartphone from Samsung or Apple, or instead choose to buy a cheaper smartphone from a homegrown brand that has the similar functionalities?
Cost is indeed a huge factor in this. With the presence of local brands, people can already own a smartphone at a relatively low cost. Jana’s previous study into smartphone adoption in Southeast Asia revealed that most of the Philippine respondents (more than 30 percent) paid under US$50 for their current phone.
Cherry Mobile, which looks to be the most popular local smartphone brand – as shown in the survey results – has smartphones priced as low as Php 1,499 (US$34). Its most expensive phone costs Php 14,999 (US$337) and comes with a 5-inch screen and an octa-core processor to rival the latest – and much more pricey – Samsung Galaxy S5.