Chinese brands continue to dominate Indian smartphone market

By: |
January 28, 2021 1:41 AM

Hold 75% market share in 2020 despite anti-China sentiments

India’s mobile handset market declined 9% y-o-y in 2020 due to a decline in feature phone shipments. The feature phone market registered a 20% y-o-y decline last year as consumers in this segment were the worst hit by lockdown.India’s mobile handset market declined 9% y-o-y in 2020 due to a decline in feature phone shipments. The feature phone market registered a 20% y-o-y decline last year as consumers in this segment were the worst hit by lockdown.

The smartphone shipment data for the 2020 calendar year show that Chinese companies control two-thirds, or 75%, of the Indian market despite a growing call for boycotting their products amid the ongoing border tensions between the two countries.

“The anti-China sentiments largely subsided by the end of the year with Chinese brands holding 75% market share in 2020. During the year, we saw innovative channel strategies from leading brands due to changed consumer behaviour in the wake of Covid-19,” Counterpoint Research analyst Shilpi Jain said.

Offline-centric brands such as Samsung, Vivo and Oppo increased their online presence. Samsung increased its online presence with the Galaxy M series on Amazon and the Galaxy F series on Flipkart. Rival Xiaomi launched ‘Mi on Wheels’ to drive its sales on offline channels and in remote areas.

Xiaomi recaptured the top spot from Samsung in Q4 2020 with a strong 13% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth. The South Korean company had displaced its Chinese rival from the top spot in Q3 2020. According to Counterpoint Research data, Samsung was once the undisputed leader till Q3 2017 but was replaced for the first time in Q4 2017 by Xiaomi.

The year 2020 also brought unexpected changes in the Indian smartphone industry due to Covid-19, anti-China sentiments, and developing manufacturing ecosystem. It also marked the re-entry of Indian brands like Micromax.

With its newly launched IN series smartphones, Micromax has reached its highest market share in six quarters. With Indian brands revamping their portfolios, and Reliance Jio coming up with an entry-level 4G smartphone, 2021 will be a significant year for Indian brands and the Counterpoint expects their share to increase.

“At the end of the year, we witnessed the return of Indian brands with Micromax announcing its IN series smartphones. Indian brands are looking to expand their market share by leveraging the PLI scheme,” Jain added.

Overall, smartphone shipments declined 4% y-o-y to reach around 150 million units in 2020. However, the market crossed 100 million units in the second half of 2020 for the first time ever. High consumer demand after the lockdown as well as strong promotions on online channels and new use cases like e-learning and work from home drove the market in the pandemic-hit year.

Another notable feature is of Apple surpassing 1.5 million shipments for the first time in a single quarter in India. Apple captured the sixth spot in Q4 2020 with a huge 171% y-o-y growth in Q4 and 93% y-o-y growth in 2020. The launch of the iPhone 12, aggressive offers on iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 11 and online expansion drove this growth.

India’s mobile handset market declined 9% y-o-y in 2020 due to a decline in feature phone shipments. The feature phone market registered a 20% y-o-y decline last year as consumers in this segment were the worst hit by lockdown.

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