Continuing pandemic, tech innovations drive digital boom in Thailand

04, Jun. 2021

Demand for electronic gadgets and internet services continues to grow in Thailand since the pandemic last year. A COVID-19 resurgence this year is accelerating sales as many people have to work from home under stricter measures to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.
Demand for electronic gadgets and internet services continues to grow in Thailand since the pandemic last year. A COVID-19 resurgence this year is accelerating sales as many people have to work from home under stricter measures to curb the spread of coronavirus infections.

By Chalermlapvoraboon Valaiporn

BANGKOK, NNA - Thailand's IT and digital market, which grew 1.2 percent in 2020, is expected to soar sharply by nearly 13 percent this year, driven mainly by an increasing adoption of digital services and personal computers due to a COVID-19 resurgence.

According to the government's Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), the robust growth is driven by digital transformation as well as market developments in innovative technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The flourishing market is expected to grow further by about 10 percent next year to hit 813.36 billion baht ($26 billion), according to Statista research department.

Riding on the boom which emerges remarkably this year, providers of internet services and electronics retailers are reporting an upsurge in sales as more companies are digitalizing their operations and enabling staff to work from home especially after the government toughened pandemic controls in April.

For many, working from the safety of home for longer periods has become a new reality following the alarming increase in the number of infection clusters emerging from office buildings and workplaces across the crowded capital city of Bangkok.

In the first quarter of 2021, leading internet provider True Online saw a significant growth in home broadband services.

Its internet revenue jumped 10 percent to reach 7.2 billion baht (about $230.3 million) from a year ago.

In the first three months alone, it gained 101,000 new internet subscriptions, increasing the total to 4.3 million.

Major telco Intouch Holdings, which operates the largest mobile network in the country under two units - Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Thaicom - also gave a glowing report. Its Q1 revenue shot up by 17 percent year on year to 1.9 billion baht.

Its pool of 1.43 million internet subscribers included 95,000 new users.

Its investor relations manager Umawan Songsiri attributed the increase mainly to "more people staying at home”.

Apart from digital adoption with government incentives helping sales in computers and phones, interest in new products is another factor, according to major electronics player, Com7 Public Co.

The company enjoyed nearly 47 percent increase in sales from a year ago, which brought its Q1 revenue to 11.96 billion baht.

Mobile sales accounted for 57 percent, followed by other products such as tablets and accessories.

Songtham Boonyasap, head of business development at Com7, said sales of IT products such as laptops, which rose by 32 percent in the first quarter, were mainly due to the work-from-home arrangement.

Noticing the demand for personal computers since last year as many people have to work and study from home after the pandemic spread in Thailand, Com7 launched a rental service for laptops and iPads with monthly charges starting at 499 baht.

Kasititorn Pooparadai, senior executive vice-president of Depa, said the hardware segment covering smart devices will lead with the biggest market value at an estimated 268.9 billion baht this year, according to a survey by the agency.

This is followed by digital services (204.2 billion baht), software (133.2 billion baht), digital content (34.2 billion baht) and big data (14.9 billion baht).

Meanwhile, growth in the global market this year is hampered by a chip shortage which affected production for electronics producers too, apart from car makers.

Earlier this year, Thai Samsung Electronics Co. said the industry was facing disruptions not only from the semiconductor crunch but also from rising costs of raw materials and container shortages.

Facing the same crisis is Toshiba Thailand Co., which reported in end-2020 that chip supply was delayed for two months.