The hype surrounding Apple's iPhone will help drive sales of a new breed of 'multimedia smartphone' in the Asia-Pacific region, analysts predict.
The iPhone will raise customer interest in the concept of multimedia devices that embed the features of a media player, a phone and a mini computer, according to Vincent Poulbere, a senior analyst with research consultancy Ovum.
Apple's device will be launched in the US at the end of this month, and in Europe later in 2007, but it is not expected to become available in Asia until 2008.
Poulbere also believes that the iPhone will boost customer awareness of using mobile phones to play music.
"Even if the iPhone is not sold as a music phone, customers are likely to see it as the merger of an iPod and a mobile phone," he said.
The expected impact of the iPhone launch in the Asia-Pacific region is part of a more general trend towards increasingly sophisticated mobile phones in the region.
"Already 40 per cent of the 140 million phones shipped in Asia-Pacific in 2006 are music capable," said Poulbere. "We forecast that music phones will represent 77 per cent of total mobile phone sales by 2011."
Music phones are providing a gateway for consumers to learn about handsets that do more than just make calls.
For example, Sony-Ericsson's Walkman range has helped so-called 'optimised' music phones emerge as a distinct interim category that offers more features than a basic music phone, though perhaps not as many as a fully-fledged smartphone.
Sales of these optimised music phones are growing in Asia, and will make up almost 13 per cent of total phone shipments in the region by 2011, Ovum predicts.
iPhone to drive smartphone sales in Asia
By Simon Burns on Jun 26, 2007 6:47AM