Mobile phone sales up in Vietnam despite inflation

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The mobile phone industry has bucked the general economic trend with strong sales in the first seven months of 2011 even as local consumers tighten spending amidst accelerating inflation, according to market research firm GfK.

Sales of smart phones and feature phones expanded by 27 percent in units and 21 percent in value in the first seven months of the year, the company said.

"Vietnam's high inflation has reduced cautious consumers' spending in many aspects, and we have observed declined sales across the other areas that GfK tracks, including IT, home appliances and consumer electronics," said Van Tran Khoa, General Manager of GfK Vietnam.

"However, the mobile phone sector has remained unaffected, and instead has continued to thrive."

The smartphone category in particular experienced strong growth. Nearly 850,000 smart phone units were sold within the first seven months, up 73 percent from the same period last year. The sales boosted the value of the smartphone industry to nearly US$280 million, up 67 percent from last year's $168 million.

GfK reported that the average price of a smartphone is $330, five times higher than that of than a feature phone. Overall, one in 10 mobile phones purchased in Vietnam in 2011 was a smartphone.

"As with the other developing markets in the region, the smartphone industry in Vietnam presents high growth potential for manufacturers," Khoa said. "For at least the upcoming few years we can expect intensified competition in the marketplace as increasing number of manufacturers try to cash in on this growing sector."

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