Singapore begins losing foreign smartphone buyers

Analysts believe low demand for iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 from foreign tourists and traders contributes to plunge of sales.

Singapore has begun losing its appeal as the go-to market of foreign tourists to purchase their latest smartphones. A new report by a market research firm reveals there is a slowing demand for iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 in the country from Asian neighbours in 2017.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), Singapore, by far, is seeing 21 per cent decrease in 2017 from 3.4 million smartphones shipments in 2016. Less significant demand from foreign buyers and traders is said to be the primary reason behind the decline.

Also read: Unlimited data plan in Singapore could replace home internet

This trend is expected to continue as high-end smartphone launches are being held in more key Asian markets, diminishing the need for foreign buyers to come to Singapore, says IDC Asia-Pacific research manager Kiranjett Kaur. IDC notes this is the biggest slump in smartphone sales in 2017 so far.

"There is less of a need for tourists to come here to buy the latest smartphones these days," said Kaur in an interview with The Straits Times.

In 2016, Singapore documented a total of 16.4 million tourist arrivals whose spending cumulatively reached SG$24.8bn in the same year. Since that year, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and China received the iPhone 7 simultaneously. In 2017, the same scenario was repeated for Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8.

In 2014, Singapore was able to sell 4.6 million units of iPhone 6 when it only had Hong Kong and Japan as competitors. A huge portion of this figure were accounted for foreign tourists and traders.

Despite that, domestic sales of flagship devices in the country for the year are hoped to increase as 2G services had been cut off.