The smartphone market in the Asia Pacific region skyrocketed over the previous decade, as shipment volumes increased significantly. Particularly from 2017 to 2018, where smartphone unit shipments doubled from 300 million units to over 700 million units in just one year. Generally, the market share of smartphones in Asia is evenly distributed among major brands; However, depending on the region, Mainland Chinese brands or Apple and Samsung dominate the markets.
Fighting for market shares
Taiwan belongs to those regions where Apple and Samsung are the leading smartphone manufacturers. With a combined market share of over 65 percent, the two companies dominate the mobile phone market. Furthermore, Taiwan constitutes one of the strongest regions for Apple in the APAC region. Only Japan, Macao, and Australia have a higher prevalence of iPhones than Taiwan. Local brands, such as HTC and Asus had not succeeded in securing a significant domestic market position. Brands from Mainland China also struggle to manifest a significant market share in Taiwan whereas domestically they account for two thirds of the industry.
At the beginning of the last decade, HTC was one of the major players in the global smartphone field. The sales volume of HTC smartphones peaked at 12.63 million units in Taiwan and export volume exceeded 146 million units in 2011. However, the brand’s sales volume in Taiwan dropped to almost half by 2015, which was followed by further decline. From 2011 to 2018, both sales volume in Taiwan and export volume of HTC shrank over ten times to less than 16 million units altogether. After multiple years of net loss, HTC sold most of its smartphone division to Google and announced that it will focus on virtual reality (VR) technology from then onwards.
Technical affinity and modern infrastructure
In terms of usage, Taiwan is a highly tech-savvy country with over 98 percent of the population owning smartphones. In addition to that, for people on the island, mobile phones are the main device to access content online. For instance, the smartphone is the leading device to consume video content, read news, and play online games. However, a high affinity towards technology and digital content also brings about downsides. In a 2019 survey, around a third of respondents stated that they were addicted to their mobile phones or the internet.
The adaptation of smartphones not only hinges upon a high mobile phone penetration rate but also on good telecommunications infrastructure. Except for the mountainous inland regions of Taiwan, all major telecom companies provide comprehensive 4G coverage. Along with the emergence of 5G technology, the region is in the process of upgrading its mobile network. At the forefront of the development are Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone, and Chunghwa who already deliver the 5G network to most of the highly populated areas of the island. As a matter of fact, the 5G download rate in Taiwan is so fast, that it ranks sixth in the APAC region.
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Research expert covering finance, real estate, and technology in Greater China